A national newspaper has apologised to a Boston mum after her picture was used by a reporter who carried out a ‘sting’ on a Government minister.
The Sunday Mirror published an article this weekend in which minister for civil society Brooks Newmark was said to have sent sexually explicit pictures to someone he believed to be a Tory party activist named ‘Sophie Wittams’.
She turned out to be a fake online persona, made up by a freelance male reporter.
That reporter – who sold the story to the Sunday Mirror – used pictures of real life women to portray ‘Sophie’ online and these included one of Charlene Tyler, of Boston, sunbathing.
Lloyd Embley, editor in chief of the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror, said: “The Sunday Mirror stands by its story relating to Brooks Newmark.
“Subterfuge was used in this investigation – and we have been very clear about that from the start.
“We strongly believe there was a clear public interest because of Mr Newmark’s roles as Minister for Civil Society and co-founder of Women2Win, an organisation aimed at attracting more Conservative women to parliament.
“We thought pictures used by the investigation were posed by models but we now know that some real pictures were used.
“At no point has the Sunday Mirror published any of these images.
“But we would like to apologise to the women involved for their use in the investigation.
“We have already spoken to one of them who has told us she would like to tell us her side of the story.”
The Boston mum was unhappy that her image was used.
She was also left upset by further national media reports in which she was quoted as being sympathetic to the minister.
She is considering a number of requests for interviews but did not wish to speak with the Standard at time of press.
A 22-year-old Swedish woman’s picture was also used by the reporter.
Mr Newmark told ITV News he had been a ‘complete fool’ and resigned on Saturday.
The manner in which the story was handled could see it become the first major case for the new Independent Press Standards Organisation.