Ruling

12346-15 Perrett v The News (Portsmouth)

    • Date complaint received

      19th May 2016

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 3 Harassment, 9 Reporting of crime

Decision of the Complaints Committee 12346-15 Perrett v The News (Portsmouth) 

Summary of complaint

1. Maria Perrett complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The News (Portsmouth) breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 3 (Privacy) and Clause 9 (Reporting of crime) in an article headlined “Former Bedhampton woman murdered after noise dispute, old Bailey told”, published on 15 June 2015.

2. The article was a court report of the trial of Trevor Gibbon, who was accused of murder. He was later convicted and sentenced to 28 years in prison.

3. There was one reference to the complainant in the article: “Gibbon and his partner, Maria Perrett, rebuffed repeated attempts by the council and police to broker better relations…” The complainant said that the statement was inaccurate, and that the inclusion of her name represented a breach of Clause 3 and Clause 9; she requested that it be removed from the article. The complainant had not been present in court.

4. The newspaper said that article had been based on copy supplied by a national news agency, which had had a reporter in court. On receipt of the complaint, the agency had confirmed that the reference complained of was an accurate report of what was heard in court; the complainant had been mentioned repeatedly as part of the prosecution case. The newspaper said that the complainant was genuinely relevant to the story, and that Clause 3 was not relevant to the complaint. It declined to remove the complainant’s name from the article, as the newspaper’s archive should be preserved unless a serious error or legal problem presents itself; that was not the case on this occasion.

Relevant Code Provisions

5. Clause 1 (Accuracy)

i) The press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.

ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and – where appropriate – an apology published.

iii) The press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

Clause 3 (Privacy)

i) Everyone is entitled to respect for his or her private and family life, home, health and correspondence, including digital communications.

Clause 9 (Reporting of crime)

i) Relatives or friends of those accused or convicted of crime should not generally be identified without their consent, unless they are genuinely relevant to the story.

Findings of the Committee

6. The publication had a responsibility to accurately report the case as heard in open court. The complainant had not been present during the hearing, and did not dispute that the court had heard the phrase complained of. There was no breach of Clause 1.

7. The publication had confirmed that the complainant had been referred to by the prosecution; she therefore had no reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to the proceedings, and was genuinely relevant to the reporting of the case. There was no breach of Clause 3 or Clause 9.

Conclusions

8. The complaint was not upheld.

Remedial Action Required 

N/A

Date complaint received: 14/12/2016 
Date decision issued: 29/04/2016