Case Number: 2113

Council Meeting: MAY 2010

Verdict: Upheld with Dissent

Publication: Sunday News

Ruling Categories: Privacy
Children and Young People
Court Reporting
Names Suppression Of

The complainant, who will not be named to protect her daughter, complained that a Sunday News story involving her daughter was inaccurate on three alleged facts and that it contained material that breached the child's privacy. The article referred to proceedings in the Family Court. The privacy complaint is upheld, with one Council member dissenting.

Sunday News conceded two of the inaccuracies but not the third, a disputed quotation. The managing editor said the errors were not, in his opinion, "materially inaccurate in the context of the story". He did not believe the article breached any statutory prohibitions on the publication of Family Court proceedings.

The Council is not the arbiter of alleged breaches of prohibitions on publication of Family Court proceedings. However, its own code of principles, agreed with the industry, requires publications to take particular care when reporting about children and young people.

Sunday News did not publish the names of any of the people involved in this story. However, the report included several pieces of information that collectively, in the Council's view, could have enabled some readers to identify the child.

For that reason the Council found the newspaper had not taken sufficient care to protect the child's privacy and on that ground the complaint was upheld.

The Council found none of the inaccuracies significant to the accuracy of the report overall. The complaint of inaccuracy was not upheld.

Penny Harding dissented from the majority decision. Ms Harding thought that the newspaper had taken reasonable care to ensure the article did not identify the child to anyone who did not already have some knowledge of the incident.

Press Council members considering this complaint were Barry Paterson (Chairman), Pip Bruce Ferguson, Ruth Buddicom, Kate Coughlan, Sandy Gill, Penny Harding, Keith Lees, John Roughan, Lynn Scott and Stephen Stewart.