Ruling

01797-16 A woman v Lincolnshire Echo

    • Date complaint received

      16th June 2016

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      11 Victims of sexual assault

Decision of the Complaints Committee 01797-16 A woman v Lincolnshire Echo 

Summary of complaint 

1.  A woman complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Lincolnshire Echo breached Clause 11 (Victims of sexual assault) of the Editors’ Code of Practice 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 published on the newspaper’s website only.

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 said that her daughter was identifiable from the article as it had included the convicted man’s name and the city in which he had previously lived.

5.  The newspaper said that it was regrettable that the complainant and her daughter had been caused so much distress. However, it had a duty to publish the results of criminal cases, and it was in the public interest to ensure that justice was done. The newspaper noted that the complainant’s primary concern was that the report had caused the issues to resurface, and did not believe that this concern raised a breach of Clause 11. It said that it had taken care not to identify the location where the abuse had taken place.

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 and city in which he used to live 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