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Highgate man expresses shock at Daily Mirror ‘deception’ after front page giant rat story

Adrian Whitaker with a copy of the offending Daily Mirror. Picture: Polly Hancock. Adrian Whitaker with a copy of the offending Daily Mirror. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014
12:48 PM

A dismayed Highgate man has slammed a national newspaper for “deception” after it published a front page picture of him holding a giant rat.

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Adrian Whitaker holding the rat he caught and killed.Adrian Whitaker holding the rat he caught and killed.

Software developer Adrian Whitaker, 35, reported the discovery of a 2ft rat at his home in Milton Park, Highgate, to the Ham&High last May, providing the newspaper with a shocking picture of him holding the giant rodent.

But yesterday, almost a year after the story was published in the Ham&High, the Daily Mirror ran a front page story about giant rats invading Liverpool and accompanied it with the photo of Mr Whitaker holding the Highgate rat.

The Mirror claimed the rat was caught in Liverpool and that the photo depicted pest controller Sean Whelan holding the dead animal.

It has since been established that the false story originated in the Sunday edition of the Liverpool Echo, owned by publisher Trinity Mirror plc, which also owns the Daily Mirror.

Adrian Whitaker and the dead rat appeared on the Liverpool Echo website.Adrian Whitaker and the dead rat appeared on the Liverpool Echo website.

The Mirror has since removed the story from its website.

In a stinging e-mail to both titles, Mr Whitaker wrote: “I do not live or work in Liverpool nor have any association with Whelan Pest Control Services.

“I originally gave permission for my image to be used to highlight a serious local issue. I certainly did not give permission for it to be used in a national newspaper.

“Your article amounts to... deception and I would like to know what you intend to do about this.”

"It just makes me realise how much more of this probably goes on in tabloids. It’s not really journalism if you’re making stuff up and sensationalising"

Adrian Whitaker

Mr Whitaker has not yet received a response to his e-mail from the Mirror or the Liverpool Echo.

He told the Ham&High: “It’s a bit of a shock, I wasn’t expecting it. It just makes me realise how much more of this probably goes on in tabloids.

“It’s not really journalism if you’re making stuff up and sensationalising – jumping on the bandwagon of the Swedish story about a giant rat.

“I would like to think that the proceeds from this didn’t make their way to the Liverpool Echo or the Mirror.

“I’d like to see the proceeds going to me or charity. I don’t think it’s fair that they are profiting at my expense.

“I used that picture as a means to lobby the council on a issue, not to sensationalise it and put it on the front cover of a tabloid.”

The Ham&High contacted Mirror reporter Stephen White about his story yesterday and he told the newspaper to take its concerns to the “legal team”.

The Liverpool Echo has not yet responded to the Ham&High’s request for a comment.

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