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The Sun criticised for 'irresponsible' front page of boy with 'devil mark'

The newspaper, however, says it is conscious of the code and guidance around paying parents for stories.

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THIS FRONT PAGE from The Sun in the UK has come under fire today, with many commentators accusing the newspaper of going on a witch hunt.

There has been an angry backlash on Twitter for what has been described as “irresponsible reporting” with many pointing out that it should not have printed the boy’s face on the cover of the national publication. (Note: The blurring in the photo above was done by TheJournal.ie)

A number of MPs have also got involved in the fight. Conservative MP Sarah Wollasto is also a GP. She tweeted:

She also told the Huffington Post that she would be reporting the item to the Press Complaints Commission.

It is a completely outrageous headline, and to link that with an identifiable picture of a child is wholly inappropriate on every level.

“This is absolutely not lighthearted. What possible justification can there be for including this child’s face, or for saying this child is marked by the devil? It is the most irresponsible piece of journalism I have seen for a long time.”

Meanwhile, writer Graham Linehan also exclaimed that “Leveson did not happen”. He also referenced the Victoria Climbié abuse case, as referenced by the New Statesman.

Victoria Climbié was an eight-year-old girl, living in London, who was tortured and murdered by her guardians who cited fear of Satan in court as a reason for beating the young girl.

In the piece, the boy’s mother says she and her fiancée are mystified as to how the mark appeared on her four-year-old son. A close-up of the skin appears to show two circles and two lines creating a burn-like mark. The boy’s injury has since healed.

Many people on Twitter believe it to be a burn from a hairdryer but the pair said looking at the mark made them think “something unnatural had visited my boy”. 

“Something or someone made the sign on him but we just can’t explain how.”

She also likened it to something that would happen in a Sci-Fi movie and admitted that she had contacted a US website which claims to specialise in alien abductions.

A statement from The Sun following the controversy said the story had already been publicised by the boy’s parents through Facebook.

“We sought to treat it in a lighthearted fashion, highlighting the apparently fanciful link to the occult.

“We are conscious of the code and guidance around paying parents. We did not encourage the parents to embellish or expand the story; it came to us, and had already been the subject of discussion (raised by the parents) on social media.

“It’s also worth noting that no concerns were expressed about the child’s welfare. An unusual mark appears, the mother gets it checked out by a doctor who confirms there is no medical reason why it should be there, and discharges her. Social workers are not involved.”

The report does not make the front page of the Irish Sun but the story does appear on page 19. 

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