The Hull Daily Mail and its website have been at the receiving end of fierce criticism from commenters today following a series of articles on Paul Smith, the founder of community news site for the Beverley area, HU17, and designer of pornographic websites.
Today’s story ‘Town website publisher’s porn business’ details Smith’s involvement in “thousands of hardcore pornography sites” and urges readers to buy tomorrow’s paper to read “how our reporter posed as an escort and confronted Paul Smith at his Beverley home”.
The article does point out that: “There is no suggestion any [of the sites designed by Smith] contain illegal material.”
But the current 179 commenters on this piece are far from happy, with several encouraging readers to complain to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC).
Suggests one commenter:
This really does smell of a set up. Having looked at HU17.net this is a very very good site that seems to promote all that is good about Beverley, what a refreshing change. I am also pleased to see and hear that East Riding Council are supporting Mr Smith. Has he been affecting HDM advertising revenues, is that the real reason you have had a go at him.
Another reader questions the subject matter of the piece in light of the site’s own adverts for personal escorts available via the stuff4sale site and the comments are equally critical on additional reports ‘Town website: the sordid truth’ and ‘Websites were graphic, hardcore porn’.
A piece on Smith’s HU17 community site, which covers news and information in the Beverley area, describes the Mail article as “deeply upsetting” and counters several of its claims.
“There is certainly some truth in what the Hull Daily Mail has printed. Paul Smith has had some dealings with people involved in the adult industry in the past, and has coded some of their websites. He has also taught many of them how to update their own sites, and this looks like being a huge mistake, as the content is then completely out of his control yet still carries links to his website company.”
The number of domain names the Mail claims Smith owns is an exceptional exaggeration, according to the HU17 piece.