Editor: 'I was right to print plunge pictures'

An editor has defended his decision to print pictures of a man plunging 50 feet from a hotel window in a failed bid to commit suicide — despite provoking outraged complaints from readers.

Kevin Booth, editor of The Press, York, was described as being like the "worst of the gutter press" by one reader and others have threatened to report the paper to the Press Complaints Commission.

The Press devoted its front page to a picture of the man falling, taken by staff photographer Mike Tipping, under the headline "God… no".

On the inside pages there was a spread of pictures showing police trying to coax him down and of his leap.

Booth defended his decision to print the pictures in a two-page article, and published letters both opposing the move and condoning their use.

He argued the crucial point to support his decision was that the man survived the fall and explained that had he died, his decision would have been "vastly different".

The family of the man have not contacted the paper.

The Sun, which also published the sequence of pictures, masked the man's face, but The Press identified him.

Booth said he believed it was different for his paper, as the event had been a "very public spectacle" and many people in the area would already have seen him.

Booth said: "If we are a paper of record, how could we suppress a story which unfolded on a main artery into the centre of York for more than two hours? It was witnessed by scores of onlookers.

"Given this, we could have put forward a convincing argument for publication on the grounds that this was a very public spectacle.

"But one crucial thing held sway — he survived. Had he not, my decision about what we used, and how we presented it, would have been vastly different.

"I accept that with a free press comes a duty of responsibility. In facing up to that responsibility, difficult decisions sometimes have to be made. This was unquestionably one of the toughest."

In March, the Evening Standard, The Times and The Sun escaped PCC censure after publishing pictures of 52-yearold lawyer Katherine Ward as she jumped to her death from a London hotel.

Although the commission said it "regretted" they were published, it said it was not its role to decide on the taste of publishing the pictures, but up to individual editors.

It said that because the papers had not included "unnecessarily explicit details or presented the photographs in a gratuitously graphic manner" the papers had not breached the Code of Practice.

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