Mirror apologises after Sutton pensioner ridiculed in online headless man story

Steven Oliver.
Steven Oliver.

A national newspaper has apologised after a disabled former miner from Sutton was ridiculed in an online video.

The video of 81 year old Terry Oliver as he stooped on the street was posted on the Mirror online website over the weekend, with the headline: “Family get Halloween fright as they spot ‘headless’ man walking down street.”

Speaking to your Chad on Monday Terry’s son Steven , 50 said: “We are disgusted with what should be respected tabloid having a story like that whatever the angle.

“My dad was injured when he was buried in a roof fall when he worked underground.

“He suffers from back and neck problems and early onset Alzheimers.

“This is just bullying. The paper should apologise and so should the woman who put the video up.”

The family is being supported by Huthwaite councillor Lee Anderson who has written to the newspaper.

Today Coun Anderson published the Mirror’s apology to the family.

“Thanks for your email, which has been forwarded to me. Additionally, sorry for the delay in replying but I’m afraid it’s been busy with the Pride of Britain Awards today and I’ve only just been able to look into the story properly.

“Firstly, and most importantly. please pass on my sincere apology to the gentleman concerned, his family, friends and anyone else who has been upset or offended by the story.

“As far as I can work out, this was supposed to be a light-hearted Halloween tale of a little girl seeing an unidentified man and thinking he was headless because he had his head bent down. The video was posted on social media and then passed on to news sites and published by several websites, including the Mirror’s.

“As soon as it became clear that the man in the video could be identified by friends and family, and that his head was bent from disability, then clearly it was not a light-hearted tale but appeared cruel. Therefore we immediately removed the article, on Sunday afternoon, when this was brought to our attention. We also removed it from Google search and from social media.

“I’m also happy to put an apology on the online corrections and clarifications section, we can discuss the wording in more detail going forwards. We do not run apologies in the newspaper for stories that did not appear in the newspaper. Print readers have not seen the story and may actively try to seek it out to understand what the apology is about. Shining further light on a story is not what anyone intended.

“I have spoken to the reporter who wrote the story, and their news editor who gave it the green light, to go through how much of an upsetting error it was, and the possibility of more training..

“However, let me reassure you that we all receive periodic training on equality issues. We are also bound by the Ipso Editor’s Code, which can be viewed here.

https://www.ipso.co.uk/editors-code-of-practice/

“I can assure you it was completely unintended, and they are mortified at not seeing how it could have been offensive before writing it. Particularly at a time when we have been focusing on the heroism of Pride Of Britain winners, such a mistake was absolutely not what was intended.

“I can’t make a donation to charity on behalf of the company myself, but I am happy to raise the issue further internally. Again, we can discuss this possibility going forwards.”

Best wishes,

Paul Cockerton

Mirror Online deputy digital director

Terry Oliver said the apology was a move in the right direction. I just hope they can get it online and make a donation to a charity of our choice.”

Coun Anderson said: “This sends out a clear message that people should not be ridiculed because of their disability.

The apology from the mirror this morning sends out a clear message to everyone especially those in the media who should know better.”

The incident is still being investigated by Nottinghamshire Police.