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Singer PJ Proby loses IPSO complaint over Mirror report he 'only wants to date underage girls'

A US singer who reportedly told the Daily Mirror he only wants to date underage girls has had a complaint rejected by press regulator IPSO.

American pop star PJ Proby said the tabloid gave a “distorted impression” of comments he made during the interview in an accuracy complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation.

The Mirror reported in its article, published online on 27 March, that the 80-year-old had “not been in a ­relationship for 22 years because he only wants to date underage girls”.

It quoted him as saying: “The last lady in my life was Elizabeth Conway in 1997. She was 13 when I met her. I don’t think there’ll be another because it’s against the law.

“I won’t marry a girl I can’t raise from the age of 12, 13 or 14. I like that they’re young and fresh-looking and don’t come with baggage – nobody’s messed with their heart and broken it.”

The Mirror, which is owned by Reach, also reported that Proby (pictured) felt paedophile Jimmy Savile –  whom Proby counted among his friends – had been “undeserving of condemnation”.

Proby, who was once a rival to Elvis Presley in the charts, said that the paper had reported his comments accurately but “had presented them out of context”, according to IPSO.

He said they were “hypothetical, light-hearted and not to be taken seriously” and denied he ever “boasted” that he was attracted to underage girls or shown any “lust” for them.

Proby also denied making the comment that Savile was “undeserving of condemnation” to the journalist.

He said the Mirror’s report suggested he had dated Conway when she was 13 but in fact he had only met her at that age and dated her 20 years later.

The title agreed to publish a clarification on that point online but denied any breach of the IPSO Editors’ Code of Practice

It provided a transcript of its interview to the regulator and denied its use of quotes was misleading or inaccurate, noting that Proby had not contested the accuracy of the quotes.

IPSO ruled that the Mirror was not in breach of Clause 1 (accuracy).

The regulator’s Code Committee said in its ruling: “The complainant had stated at interview that the youngest girl he’d ‘been out with’ was 12, and he would not marry a girl that he ‘could not raise from the age of 13 or 14’; he had also indicated a preference for girls which were ‘young and fresh-looking’ and ‘still in school’.

“In this context, the committee was satisfied that the comments made by the complainant, and relied upon by the newspaper, provided a sufficient basis for the manner in which it had characterised the complainant’s views; it was not a failure to take care over the accuracy of the article, to report that the complainant had ‘boasted’ or shown a ‘lust’ for girls under the age of 16, in those circumstances.”

IPSO said Proby “had not caveated his remarks” about meeting Conway when she was 13 and only dating her decades later during the interview, but said a clarification was required to “remedy the misleading impression” given.

“The clarification offered by the publication made clear the correct position,” said IPSO, who ruled that the Daily Mirror should now publish the clarification in print as well as in a footnote to the article.

IPSO said Proby’s claim that Savile was “undeserving of condemnation”, was “not presented as a direct quote from the complainant”.

“Further, the complainant had told the interviewer that the ‘treatment’ of Jimmy Savile was a ‘bunch of bullcrap’,” it said.

The committee said it was satisfied the newspaper had “demonstrated a sufficient basis for the manner in which it had characterised the complainant’s views”, and this did not represent a significant inaccuracy.

The complaint was not upheld.

Proby also filed complaints against the Mirror’s sister Reach regional titles Teeside Live and Leeds Live, neither of which was upheld.

Read the full IPSO ruling here.

Picture: Reuters/Luke MacGregor

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