Kerrang Radio Faces Rap for Gay Sex Prank
Ofcom to rule on invasion of privacy.
London - 30 November 2005
Birmingham-based Kerrang Radio has been reported to airwaves regulator, OfCom, on charges that it tricked a gay man into revealing intimate details about his private life and later broadcast them without his knowledge or consent.
Richard Curson has filed a complaint of "infringement of privacy" and "unjust and unfair treatment".
Rock music station Kerrang Radio is part of the Emap media empire, publisher of magazine titles like Heat, Q, Mojo, Smash Hits and Empire.
Mr Curson's complaint to OfCom alleges that Kerrang radio presenter, Tim Shaw, a former work colleague of Mr Curson, phoned him and: "confessed he was bisexual.said he was in love with me.(and) had these feelings for years. He was crying and obviously upset. I believed him and comforted him.(in response to his questions) I told him personal things about my feelings and sexuality. He then laughed, said it was a joke and later broadcast it."
Mr Curson's complaint to OfCom stresses: "I did not know I was being recorded. A conversation I believed to be private and personal was broadcast without consent. My sexuality was used, and the subject of a malicious joke."
"This is not the first time Tim Shaw and Radio Kerrang have been accused of serious breaches of radio standards," said gay human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell of OutRage!.
"On 14 February this year the BBC reported that Tim Shaw was suspended from Kerrang Radio after staging a mock burglary at the home of the station's programme director. As part of a broadcast radio stunt for his late-night Asylum show, Shaw broke into his director's home; smashing a window, tossing clothes out of cupboards and spray-painting obscenities on the walls.
"Tim Shaw has form. The cruel trick played on Richard Curson is part of a pattern of abuse by Mr Shaw. Indeed, Mr Shaw was sacked from Radio Hallam FM in 1998 for broadcasting offensive material.
"We are calling on Tim Shaw and Kerrang Radio to issue a public apology to Mr Curson, and to pay him substantial damages for the embarrassment and humiliation they inflicted on him. No one should have to suffer this type of unwarranted invasion of privacy.
"OfCom should get tough with Kerrang Radio. They deserve a fine of at least £50,000," said Mr Tatchell.
In a statement today, Mr Curson said:
"This stunt went way beyond acceptable standards. It caused me great distress to have intimate details of my private life broadcast to all and sundry. I felt totally humiliated. It was emotional rape. My self-confidence is in tatters. I have had sleepless nights, eating disorders and twice attempted suicide. Kerrang Radio made me look a complete fool."
Mr Curson's complaint against Tim Shaw and Kerrang Radio is being backed by the LGBT human rights group, OutRage!, his agent Mark Cowne of Kruger Cowne, and by Jake, the gay professional network.
Mr Curson is a radio journalist and presenter, also known as Livsey. He used to work for Kerrang Radio.
Lisa Thorne, Operations Director, JakeTM, said:
"Kerrang acted in a despicable and dishonorable manner when they deliberately targeted Richard Curson, AKA Livsey.by telephoning him at home and luring him into an intimate sexual conversation then broadcasting it, causing Livsey considerable distress and anxiety and making him a figure of public ridicule."
"In the year 2005, it is outrageous that such attacks can be allowed in the public arena and Jake calls for Kerrang to be bought to task for this, make a public apology and compensate Livsey for damages.
"Jake will give its wholehearted support to Livsey and is proud to do so. Livsey is a very funny, talented and entertaining broadcaster who deserves respect. The attack has had a profound effect on him and he was nearly suicidal," said Ms Thorne.
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