E! Online and Google News both used the wrong photo with a story on the child sex abuse conviction of Ian Watkins. Instead of using a picture of the real and convicted Watkins, both sites used a photo of Ian H Watkins, another Welsh entertainer.
Ian H Watkins, 37, was formerly a member of the pop group Steps. Ian Watkins, 36, is the former front man of the group Lostprophets, and was recently convicted and jailed “for a string of child sex offences including the attempted rape of a baby,” according to the BBC.
E! Online apologized in UK High Court and on its website for using the wrong photo. Its Nov. 27 article, Lostprophets’ Ian Watkins Pleads Guilty to Sex Offenses Including Attempted Rape of a Baby, now carries an editor’s note reading
“Editor’s note: This story was originally published with an image of Ian “H” Watkins of the band Steps rather than Ian Watkins of Lostprophets. E! Online deeply regrets this error.”
Ian H Watkin’s solicitor John Reid said in court that E “quickly” and “promptly” fixed its error and apologized to H’s management,” Australia’s News.com.au reported.
In a statement, Watkins said of his action against E!, “This was not something that I did lightly but it was important to me that a public statement was made so that there is no confusion going forward. I am really pleased that it has been resolved so quickly so that my family and I can try and move on from what has been an extremely distressing time. Thanks once again to those who have supported me.”
Then Google News made the same error, coincidentally on the same day as the E! court apology, by using a photo of Ian H Watkins with a story on Ian Watkins’ sentence. The Independent reported:
“The search engine’s algorithm system had mistakenly placed a profile thumbnail picture of the star from a BBC story and used it with a CBS News headline that read: Ex-singer Ian Watkins gets 29 years for child sex assault.”
Watkins responded to the Google News Mix-up:
I can’t actually tell you how angry and upset I am right now…. ;0(
— Ian H Watkins (@Ianhwatkins) December 19, 2013
The Mirror added that Google News doesn’t have an ‘editor” and that a CBS spokesperson confirmed the error was Google’s, not CBS’.
Ian H Watkins tweeted a screenshot proving the error.
According to the Mirror, Ian H Watkins may sue Google. Watkins’ agent is quoted as saying:
“Ian is astonished that in spite of yesterday’s public apology from E! Online, Google have now created far more damaging and far-reaching false and defamatory coverage linking our client to the appalling crimes of the Lostprophets singer.
“His solicitors are taking immediate and determined steps to urgently rectify the position.”
Google responded to his claims, Press Gazette reported: “For some specific searches Ian H Watkins’ picture is appearing in our results because he is relevant to the story having received a court apology. We are looking into the issue he raises.”
iMediaEthics has reached out to Google for comment about the error and will update with any response.