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Tuesday, May 20, 2008 

Scum-watch: Basking in rumour of suffering.

As I've noted before, one of the inherent contradictions at the heart of the Sun newspaper is that for all its campaigns for its own form of justice and disgust of the ubiquitous yobs, one of its major selling points is reporting those very same crimes in all their salacious, gory detail. This would be more acceptable if the Sun was certain of those very facts, but as past cases have shown, it regards such small matters as accuracy as secondary to getting the story out. The paper previously claimed that Rochelle Holness had been dismembered with an electric saw while still alive, before the post-mortem established that she had in fact been dead for 15 hours before her killer desecrated her body. Despite Holness's family making their anger and pain clear after the conviction of John McGrady at the newspaper for such disturbing but inaccurate reporting, the Sun never apologised and the story in all its disgusting detail still remains on the website. Similarly, last year the paper reported that Janet Hossain had been found dead in "sexy bondage gear" and speculated that she died after "a kinky game" had gone wrong; she had in fact been wearing her normal clothes and killed by a former lover, with sex playing no role whatsoever.

Today the paper splashes on the case of Rosimeiri Boxall, the 19-year-old who died after falling 30ft from a second-storey window. The facts in the case have already changed once: initially it was reported that Boxall may have been pushed, something that the police have since discounted. Completely ignoring the possibility that further information being released may also turn out to be erroneous, the Sun has gone into complete rumour mode. Quoting a "source" the newspaper reports:

We believe Rosimeiri was subject to a ‘happy slapping’ attack. She was assaulted by girls and the act was videoed.

"She was kept in the room for some hours. We don’t know how she came to be there in the first place but when she could take it no more, she jumped."

It also claims that:

Rosimeiri Boxall, 19 - known as Rosi - had been held captive and tortured for hours before her doomed escape in Blackheath, South East London.

The source might of course be completely correct; he/she might not. The issue here is that when a family is mourning the loss of a daughter, the last thing they want to see is her splashed almost across the full front page of a national newspaper, with deeply troubling potentially inaccurate information about what she suffered in her last hours. The thoughts for those struggling to come to terms with their loss however always come secondary to a newspaper beating its rivals to the punch and keeping the money rolling in.

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