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Trainee reporter texted and called schoolgirl: Paper apologises

A trainee reporter texted and telephoned a 14-year-old girl while she was at school to try and get information about an incident involving other pupils.

The Scarborough Evening News reporter contacted the girl after previously interviewing her about a road safety campaign she was running.

The paper has since apologised twice for what it called a “stupid, one-off, openly admitted error of judgement”.

Following the approach the girl’s mother complained that her daughter had been contacted without consent, and the Evening News admitted that this had breached Clause 6 (Children) of the Code of Practice.

As well as two verbal apologies the reporter sent the girl a private e-mail of apology at the request of the complainant’s husband, and the paper said it was willing to send further private letters of apology to the complainant and her daughter on headed paper.

But the girl’s mother said she wanted the newspaper to publish a summary of her complaint and its resolution instead, as well as an assurance that the newspaper’s staff would receive training in the PCC Code.

The Evening News said it thought this was inappropriate, and following investigations the Press Complaints Commission agreed, saying that no further action was required.

The PCC said there had been a clear breach of the Code but taking account of all the circumstances, including that the girl had not been approached randomly and was already known to the reporter, the paper’s prompt admission and apology was a proportionate response.

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