Decision of the Complaints Committee 01207-14 A woman v Cornish Guardian
Summary of complaint
1. A woman complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Cornish Guardian had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 3 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Adam Sedgewick, 39, of Landrew Place, St Austell, pleaded guilty to two offences of assault and was conditionally discharged”, published on 1 October 2014.
2. The article was a court report of the complainant’s former partner’s conviction for two counts of assaulting the complainant. He had pleaded guilty and received a conditional discharge.
3. The complainant said that she should not have been named in the article, as she had been the victim in the case. She said that this was an intrusion into her privacy and breached Clause 3. She also said that the article was inaccurate, as the house was on Landrew Road, not Landrew Place, her child had not been at home at the time, as the report had claimed, and the residence does not have an upstairs, as suggested in the article.
4. The newspaper said that there had been no reporting restriction in place, which would have prohibited identification of the complainant. As the case had been heard in open court, it had been entitled to include her name. The newspaper accepted that the address was correctly Landrew Road, and offered to publish a correction on this point. It provided copies of the reporter’s notes, and said that they recorded that a child had been asleep upstairs during one of the incidents, and so did not believe that the article contained any further inaccuracies. While the newspaper did not accept that it had breached Clause 3, it acknowledged the distress caused to the complainant and offered to remove her name from the online article.
5. The complainant did not consider this to be a satisfactory resolution to her complaint, as her name had already been published in the print version of the article. She did not want a correction published correcting the street name, as she was concerned that this would represent a further intrusion.
Relevant Code Provisions
6. Clause 1 (Accuracy)
i) The press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information.
ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and – where appropriate – an apology published.
Clause 3 (Privacy)
i) Everyone is entitled to respect for his or her private and family life, home, health and correspondence, including digital communications.
The Public Interest
4. The Regulator will consider the extent to which material is already in the public domain, or will become so.
Findings of the Committee
7. The proceedings reported in the article had taken place in open court, and no reporting restrictions had been in place. The newspaper had been entitled to report the details of the case, and to name the complainant in doing so. There was no breach of Clause 3.
8. The Committee welcomed the newspaper’s prompt acknowledgement of the inaccuracy regarding the address, and its offer to publish a correction on this point. However, the inaccuracy was not significant; a correction was not required in order to satisfy the newspaper’s obligations under Clause 1 (ii) of the Editors’ Code.
9. The newspaper was not obliged to independently investigate the events heard in court; rather its obligation was to report the proceedings accurately. The reporter’s notes from the hearing recorded the prosecution as saying that the complainant’s daughter had been asleep upstairs at the time of one of the incidents. The Committee was satisfied that there had been no failure to take care over the accuracy of the article; there was no breach of Clause 1.
10. The complaint was not upheld.
Remedial Action Required
Date complaint received: 08/10/2014Date decision issued: 09/03/2015 Back to ruling listing