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Oscar Pistorius trial: Bookmaker Paddy Power defends special deal on murder trial

The advert has prompted a number of complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority

Bookmaker Paddy Power today insisted it was “just responding to demand” despite triggering a storm of outrage by taking bets on the Oscar Pistorius murder trial.

The bookie’s “Oscar Time” advert - offering money back if the Paralympic sports star is acquitted of killing Reeva Steenkamp - has prompted uproar with more than 90,000 signing an online petition urging the company to donate profits from the trial to a charity campaigning against violence towards women.

But Paddy Power’s chief financial officer Cormac McCarthy refused to apologise for the stunt, in which Pistorius’s head was imposed on an Oscar statuette, and said the bookmaker had previously offered odds on the OJ Simpson murder trial.

“We’re offering a market on the outcome of a trial because people want to bet on it. We’ve had over a thousand people place bets on this. It is the story of the year - it’s the water cooler conversation, everybody is talking about it. We are just responding to demand by offering a price on that. That’s what we do.”


Asked whether the campaign was morally wrong, McCarthy added: “ It is a matter of opinion. Our opinion is that there is huge global interest in this trial and interest in the outcome. Our brand has personality, it is edgy, that is what we do.” He “didn’t know” how many customers had demanded prices on the trial before the advert appeared.

Some 92,000 people have so far signed the change.org petition urging Paddy Power to end markets on the trial. Posters on Mumsnet labelled it “sickening”. One wrote: “A young woman is dead, this is a murder trial, and they think it’s casual entertainment people can take a flutter on, akin to the sodding Oscars.”