i Editor's Letter: Catching a sexual predator
Oliver Duff was appointed Editor of i in June 2013. He was previously Executive Editor at The Independent, i and The Independent on Sunday, running the newsroom. Formerly a reporter, gossip columnist and news editor, he was fired as the magazine's bar critic after three weeks. A diver and surfer, he's interested in nature and science, politics and diplomacy.
Friday 21 June 2013
We know that the police struggle to jail sex attackers. So how can a reporter catch a sexual predator – and collect enough evidence to secure a criminal conviction? One of i’s journalists, Charlotte Philby, has helped to do just that.
My old job, running our newsroom, threw up ethical teasers. When to deploy subterfuge. Whether or not to self-censor – for instance, if publication could carry tragic consequences for the subject of a story. And when to pull a reporter off a scoop because its pursuit poses a risk to their safety.
In November, we had to decide whether to let Charlotte meet a man who was posing as an academic, to dupe young women into having sex with him in return for a fictitious £15,000 university “scholarship”. Unless we could covertly record him, there was no proof – and he would carry on attacking. But at what point should she make her excuses and leave? Before she set foot in the apartment he’d rented, we decided. So we set up the sting in a café. An undercover reporter sat on the next table and the predator told Charlotte she must perform a sexual “practical assessment” to get the money. Bingo. We handed our footage to the Met and yesterday the man admitted trafficking and voyeurism. He faces a jail sentence.
It was not the usual fare for i’s pages. Yesterday’s guilty pleas, though, served to vindicate that considered use of deception in the aftermath of Leveson.
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Scottish Independence Referendum: Salmond described as 'arrogant, ambitious and dishonest' by Scottish women
- 1 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 2 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 3 Paul Scholes: Manchester United need five experienced players who can turn round a desperate situation
- 4 Nicki Minaj 'Anaconda': Singer finally releases predictable video
- 5 James Foley 'beheading': Met police warn public watching murder video could be criminal offence