Virgin fined pounds 10,000 for Evans stunt

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The Independent Online
VIRGIN RADIO has been fined pounds 10,000 by watchdogs after the owner and presenter Chris Evans broadcast a photographer's mobile-phone number and urged listeners to harass him.

Mr Evans gave out Mel Bouzad's number after he was allegedly involved in a scuffle with the Oasis star Liam Gallagher. Mr Evans told listeners to his Virgin Radio show to ring Mr Bouzad and "hound him until he goes toes up".

The Radio Authority said: "The ... photographer claimed to have received over 700 calls, including death-threats." Mr Evans's remarks constituted "a serious abuse of the airwaves and a breach of its Programme Code" on the privacy of individuals.

It is the second-highest penalty the authority has imposed. "The authority does not condone the behaviour of any photographers who invade privacy, but it has no jurisdiction over any such allegations. However, to broadcast personal details about someone without prior permission, and to urge harassment, is a very serious matter."

A Virgin Radio spokeswoman said: "We accept the Radio Authority ruling."

The biggest fine imposed by the Radio Authority was pounds 20,000 for taste and decency. That was also against Virgin Radio, but in 1994, when it was under different management.

Media, Review, page 12