Daily British newspaper The Leicester Mercury decided to ignore a police request and publish photos of Ajay Jetha, a man Judge Nicholas Dean called a “highly dangerous predatory paedophile” when sentencing him this month.
Jetha was jailed in 2004 for the kidnap and indecent assault of a 12-year-old boy and pleaded guilty to ten charges for sexually assaulting a boy in 2015 and another “ten unconnected child sex offenses.”
Photos of Jetha were on the Mercury‘s front page and the fourth page of the newspaper. The Mercury‘s article reported on his sentencing this month and included several photos of Jetha.
“We had been requested not to use them by Leicestershire Police, the force who put him behind bars for life. They felt the images could hinder the rehabilitation of his latest victim, a schoolboy mercilessly attacked on a secluded footpath in Leicester. It is an argument we considered long and hard before choosing to go ahead.”
The newspaper explained why it made the decision and stood by it in light of criticism.
“Ajay Jetha is a predator. A man whose only goal in life is to satisfy his own sexual appetite. A man who cares not about being arrested, nor the consequences of his crimes. A man declared by a judge to be ‘highly dangerous’ and likely to remain so for the rest of his life. Someone who shows no desire to change.”
The newspaper argued that it’s likely Jetha won’t change during his time in prison and will be a repeat offender, given his conviction in 2004 and last year. “There’s overwhelming evidence to suggest he will try again. Wherever and whenever he can. It’s a matter of time,” the Mercury wrote. “You have a right to know what he looks like. To know the face of a paedophile so unbalanced he used graffiti to seek out young children for sex.”
The police pointed iMediaEthics to its statement on the photos.
In a statement, the Leicestershire Police said it was “extremely disappointed” the newspaper published the photos, noting that the attack “caused very deep and ongoing trauma to the child and to his parents.”
The police had said they wanted the media to be careful in reporting in order to “safeguard the boy and his family.”
“This included urging all media outlets not to publish or broadcast the details of the attack on him. All media outlets, including the Mercury, agreed to that request, for which the family were – and remain – very grateful,” the newspaper went on.
The police said that the boy’s family told police “they would be extremely distressed if any media outlet published photographs of the man who attacked their son” but “regrettably the Mercury chose to publish pictures” from the man’s social media.
iMediaEthics has written to the Mercury and Jetha’s lawyer for comment.
Hat Tip: Hold the Front Page
CORRECTION - April 13, 2016 11:57 AM
Due to an editing error, the headline originally said the UK police ignored the police request, when in fact it was a UK newspaper.