Ruling

01493-16 A woman v Shropshire Star

    • Date complaint received

      16th June 2016

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      11 Victims of sexual assault

Decision of the Complaints Committee 01493-16 A woman v Shropshire Star

Summary of complaint 

1.  A woman complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Shropshire Star breached Clause 11 (Victims of sexual assault) in an article published in February 2016.

2. The article reported that a man who had been convicted of a number of child sexual offences had had his appeal against his convictions dismissed.

3. The article was substantially the same in print and online.

4.  The complainant’s daughter had been the victim in the case, and said that the fresh coverage had caused her daughter distress. She said that this breached Clause 11. She also said that her daughter was identifiable from the article as it had included the convicted man’s name, the city in which he had previously lived, and her daughter’s age at the time of the first offence.

5.  The newspaper said that it had never intended to cause any distress, but that it was entitled to report court proceedings. It said that justice should be open and the newspaper was right to inform its readers of the court’s decision to reject the appeal. It said that the article had not included any details which could lead to identification of the victim. Nonetheless, as a gesture of goodwill, the newspaper removed the article from its website.

Relevant Code provisions 

6.  Clause 11 (Victims of sexual assault) 

The press must not identify victims of sexual assault or publish material likely to contribute to such identification unless there is adequate justification and they are legally free to do so.

Findings of the Committee 

7.  Publication of the convicted man’s name, the city in which he used to live, and the age of the complainant’s daughter at the time of the first offence, were insufficient to contribute to the identification of the complainant’s daughter. The inclusion of these details did not breach Clause 11.

8. The terms of Clause 11 do not prevent newspapers from reporting the proceedings in cases involving sexual offences, even where to do so may cause upset. While the Committee understood that the article had been distressing to the complainant’s daughter, the concern that the case had been the subject of more coverage, a few years after the original conviction, did not engage the terms of Clause 11.

Conclusions 

9. The complaint was not upheld.

Remedial action required 

N/A 

Date complaint received: 07/03/2016 
Date decision issued: 31/05/2016