Fritzl: a perfect gift for Father's Day, say Tesco and WH Smith

Even by the standards of last-minute trawls of the high street for that CD or pair of socks which show a child's love for their father, it seems an improbable gift. But to some branches of Tesco and W H Smith, The Crimes of Josef Fritzl: Uncovering the Truth seemed a surefire hit for the Dad market. The book, which details how the Austrian, now 74, imprisoned his daughter Elisabeth in his cellar for 24 years, repeatedly raping her and fathering her seven children, has featured as a Father's Day promotion.

One W H Smith store displayed the title as one of its "Top 50 Books for Dad" (buy one, get one half-price), declaring on a nearby display: "Fathers are heroes". A Tesco store in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, alarmed shoppers with its suggestion that the book would be a suitable symbol of father-offspring love.

A female shopper at the Tesco store, who asked to remain anonymous, said: "Am I alone in feeling appalled to see a book entitled The Crimes of Josef Fritzl on display as a suggested gift for Father's Day?" A male shopper in his 20s added: "It is an outrageous idea. My dad probably would be interested in this book but I wouldn't get it for him on Father's Day." Tesco hit back, defending the right to promote the book on civil liberties grounds, saying that it would smack of censorship to remove certain books because some customers found them offensive.

A spokesman for Tesco said: "It's a book about a true crime and fathers and people in general are interested in things like this, books about the war, serial killers etc. It's not a vulgar or grotesque book. It's a serious book about a very serious crime.

"It would be touching on censorship if we removed it. Where would we draw the line? Would you like us to go through every DVD we sell removing those that some may find offensive? Tesco are comfortable selling this book. Crime fiction and non-fiction are very popular. This was a high-profile case that occurred in recent times." Then the spokesman did add: "I wouldn't be comfortable buying it as a Father's Day gift, but I wouldn't want to tell other people not to. No one is being forced to buy it."

But, in a statement later, Tesco admitted an error had been made and said the Fritzl title had been taken off the promotional stand. "It was never our intention to cause offence to any of our customers," said the statement. "It was placed there by mistake and has been removed." W H Smith also removed the book from the promotional stand and said it was "a mistake by one store". A spokeswoman added: "It is not national policy. We will rectify this immediately."

Three months ago, Fritzl was sentenced to life imprisonment in a secure psychiatric unit, after he admitted incest, rape, enslavement, coercion, and murdering a newborn baby by neglect. His daughter Elizabeth, now 43, is trying to rebuild her life.

In the book, journalists Bojan Pancevski and Stefanie Marsh claim that Elizabeth's cries for help as she endured 3,000 rapes in her secret cellar would have been heard by Fritzl's tenants.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn