If you thought The Sun had already reached an all-time low, then the right-wing tabloid plumbed new depths with its front page and comment section on Wednesday 8 November.
“Vowed to clear his name”
Labour Welsh Assembly Member (AM) Carl Sargeant was found dead at his home on Tuesday 7 November. The BBC reported that it was thought he had taken his own life. Sargeant’s death came after he was sacked as Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children by Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones on 3 November, and suspended by the Labour Party. Both actions followed allegations about his personal conduct. The BBC said Sargeant had “vowed to clear his name”.
The Sun chose to make Sargeant’s death its front page story on 8 November. And it ran the article with this headline:
The Sun says…
In its online article, The Sun said that:
Labour’s Carl Sargeant killed himself after begging party chiefs to detail the sex pest allegations against him, sources say.
The Sun can reveal solicitors acting for him wrote to Labour bosses over the weekend to warn he was suffering from distress and anxiety over not knowing details of the claims against him.
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A source said: ‘Labour were warned it was affecting his mental health’.
The Sun also quoted a Welsh Labour source as saying:
Carl’s death has shown that in its frenzy to be politically correct the Labour Party has lost all sense of justice.
At no point in either the online article or the print edition did anyone The Sun quotes use the term “sex pest”.
But the tabloid used its The Sun Says column in the print edition to comment on Sargeant’s death and the “Westminster sleaze allegations”:
The tabloid put the Samaritans’ contact details at the bottom of its online article, although not the print edition. But at the same time it appears that The Sun is implying that both the Labour Party’s conduct and “social media mobs” are, in part, to blame for Sargeant’s death. Which goes against the Samaritans’ own guidelines around the reporting by the media of suicides:
Over-simplification of the causes or perceived ‘triggers’ for a suicide can be misleading and is unlikely to reflect accurately the complexity of suicide.
For example, avoid the suggestion that a single incident, such as loss of a job, relationship breakdown or bereavement, was the cause.
But the fact The Sun chose to tie Sargeant in to the “sex pest” scandal, thinking the caveat of putting the phrase in single quotation marks would let it off the hook, perhaps is the most tawdry. Because while it quotes Tory MP Nigel Evans as saying:
Carl was still innocent!
it then brands Sargeant part of the “sex pest” scandal on its front page. The Sun’s rancid hypocrisy and utter disregard for Sargeant’s grieving family knows no bounds.
– If you need someone to talk to, you can speak anonymously to the Samaritans on 116 123.
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