Former Crimewatch presenter Nick Ross has accused the Daily Mail newspaper group of distorting and "hyping" his views on rape, after it quoted women's groups accusing him of "misogyny" for claims he made in a book serialised by the same newspaper.
Ross was speaking exclusively to IBTimes UK after victim support groups and other campaigners accused him of "prejudice" and "doing immense damage to victims of sexual violence".
Ross had struck a deal with the tabloid for the rights to his new book, Crime, extracts of which have run at length for the past two weeks in the Mail on Sunday. The newspaper group is understood to have paid the TV presenter an undisclosed sum for the right to publish extracts of his book.
The presenter said he was "sickened and appalled" to see his words turned against him in a report which held him up as an apologist for unconsensual sex, after suggesting "not all rape is rape".
He accused the paper of "chosing to focus on sex" and "hyping what I say to make it sounds more controversial than it is", adding: "Their headline is the antithesis of my view".
The Mail used Ross's research to produce a report which, Ross said, misreported his views to suggest he believed rape victims were often to blame for their ordeal.
'Rape isn't always rape'
The Mail report said Ross had "provoked outrage" by suggesting "rape isn't always rape" when the victim was drunk, with a boyfriend, or had gone "too far" by leading men on.
Extracts from the book quoted Ross as saying: "Half of all women who have had penetrative sex unwillingly do not think they were raped. This proportion rises strongly when the assault involves a boyfriend, or if the woman is drunk or high on drugs: they led him on, they went too far, it wasn't forcible, they didn't make themselves clear.
"For them, rape isn't always rape and, however upsetting, they feel it is a long way removed from being systematically violated or snatched off the street."
Reporters from the paper then contacted support groups including Rape Crisis, Victim Support and the Women Against Violence Coalition, eliciting a series of angry and aggrieved responses to selected passages from his research.
It quoted Jo Woods, a trustee of Rape Crisis, saying: "I feel absolute fury. I really thought we had moved on from such outdated and ridiculous viewpoints. I feel sad for the thousands of women who will read these views and believe that finally they have the validation that they must have been to blame - because Nick Ross says so.
Sarah Green, a spokesman for the Women Against Violence Coalition, said: "Nick Ross sticks with very tired and deeply misogynistic prejudices about 'provocative dress'. This is an appalling misrepresentation of what actually happens."
Sun columnist and ex-Tory MP Louise Mensch branded the extract "pretty damning", while fellow Crimewatch presenter, Jacqui Hames said she was "struggling to match the man I know with the comments! What on earth is going on?"
'Please distinguish between me and the Mail'
But Ross, best known for co-hosting BBC1's Crimewatch with the late JillDando, insisted his remarks had been taken out of context.
He told IB Times UK: ""Please distinguish what I say and what the Mail said.
"The book is a scrupulously researched and carefully written review which challenges received wisdoms about all aspects of crime. Last week's extracts in the Mail were well received.
"This week they chose to focus on sex and hype what I say to make it sound more controversial than it is. Their headline is the antithesis of my view that 'rape isn't always rape'.
"On the contrary, my book cites research suggesting it is rape victims who often don't see rape as rape.
"Far from being chauvinistic I am complaining how chauvinistic attitudes to women in crime still are."
Completing the circle
Later the same day, the Mail updated the report on its website, toning down its "outraged" angle after reporters from around the world contacted him seeking clarification.
The Daily Mail acknowledged Ross' complaint that the Mail on Sunday had "misquoted him in its headline", which said "Not all women are victims and not all rape is rape".
The paper then completed the circle, approaching Ross once more for his reaction to its story about the outrage its extracts had stirred. However, it claimed Ross agreed with its view that "the edited extract was fair".
In a statement following the furore, Ross said on Saturday: "For the record, lest it needs saying, and, as I make clear in the published extracts, anyone who suffers such a violating crime should be the centre of our concerns.
"As I write in the book, rape is one of the most defiling crimes and there is never excuse or justification for it."