American singer PJ Proby was upset about three UK news outlets’ article about him and his comments about underage girls.
While Proby argued his comments were “hypothetical, light-hearted, and not to be taken seriously,” the UK press regulator rejected his complaints.
The UK Daily Mirror published an article March 27, 2019, apparently starting the controversy. The Mirror‘s article, “The sick and twisted world of Sixties pop star PJ Proby,” reported that he told the Mirror he hadn’t “been in a relationship for 22 years because he only wants to date underage girls.” He added:
“The last lady in my life was 13 when I met her in 1997. I don’t think there’ll be another because it’s against the law. I won’t marry a girl I can’t raise from the age of 12, 13 or 14. I like that they’re young and fresh-looking and don’t come with baggage – nobody’s messed with their heart and broken it”.
Proby complained about the Mirror’s report, and also complained about Leeds Live and Teeside Live’s articles reporting on the effects of his comments.
All three outlets — the Mirror, Leeds Live and Teeside Live — are owned by Reach PLC. A Mirror spokesperson told iMediaEthics, “PJ Proby openly shared these thoughts with us in a recorded interview and we’re obviously pleased that IPSO ruled in our favour.”
Proby confirmed he made the comments about underage girls but denied that he was being serious. Specifically, he said he didn’t defend Savile and he didn’t say he was dating a 13-year-old, but rather that he met her at 13 and dated her 20 years later, according to his complaint to IPSO.
Further, the Mirror reported that Proby defended his friend Jimmy Savile, the deceased UK TV and radio host who was accused after his death of hundreds of child sex crimes.
However, the Mirror provided its audio recording and transcript of the interview, backing up its reporting.
One thing to note is that while the Mirror published that Proby said, “The last lady in my life was 13 when I met her in 1997. I don’t think there’ll be another because it’s against the law,” the transcript shows his quote was cleaned up. The transcript, according to IPSO, read in part:
- Q: So when was the last lady in your life?
- A: The last lady in my life was errr [name] about…. the year that Diana Prince Of Wales was killed
- Q: Really? 1997?
- A: Yeah
- Q: You haven’t been with a woman since then?
- A: No.
- Q: How come?
- A: Because it’s against the law. I won’t marry a girl that I can’t raise from the age of 13 or 14.
The Mirror also defended its reporting on Proby’s opinion of Savile because it had the recording showing he said it was “bullcrap,” “all politics,” and “a side of Jimmy Savile I never saw.” The Mirror did offer to publish a clarification saying that the person he dated in 1997 wasn’t a 13-year-old at the time, but was when he met her.
IPSO rejected Proby’s complaint against the Mirror, pointing to his recorded interview. However, IPSO did call for the Mirror to publish a clarification about how old the person referred to from 1997.
Proby also complained about articles in Leeds Live and Teeside Live about the backlash to the Mirror interview. Both articles reported that he lost gigs after the interview. In both cases, IPSO rejected the complaints, arguing they reported accurately on Proby’s interview comments.
iMediaEthics e-mailed Proby’s contact address; the e-mail bounced back.