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Press complaint by Neil Entwistle's parents thrown out

A complaint made by the parents of convicted double murderer Neil Entwistle against their local paper has been thrown out by the press watchdog.

The Press Complaints Commission decreed that the Worksop Guardian was not in breach of four separate clauses of its Code of Conduct.

In June, Neil Entwistle was convicted in America of the double murder of his wife Rachel and their daughter Lillian Rose.

Cliff and Yvonne Entwistle claimed the Johnston Press weekly had harassed them (Clause 4) and intruded on their grief (Clause 5).

Mrs Entwistle also complained of a privacy breach (Clause 3) when the Guardian took a picture of her outside the school where she works.

Finally, she also claimed the photo had been taken using subterfuge (Clause 10) – that is, the photographer was in his car about 25 yards away when he took the picture.

None of these complaints were upheld by the PCC.

Mr and Mrs Entwistle said that, following a public statement after the verdict, the newspaper had published a series of hostile letters which were insensitive to the couple.

During this statement, Mrs Entwistle claimed it was Rachel who had killed Lillian Rose and then taken her own life.

They claimed the newspaper had harassed them and publishing the letters was a way of bullying them into elaborating on the statement made outside the American court.

The couple said a Worksop Guardian reporter had visited their home on three separate occasions and an e-mail was sent asking Mr Entwistle for comments – even though they’d told the paper not to contact them.

They also said reporters “hounded” parents and children at the school where Mrs Entwistle worked on the day of the verdict.

Finally, Mrs Entwistle said she had been secretly photographed while on school property.

Newspaper’s Response

The Guardian said it had published a representative sample of the letters it had received following Mrs Entwistle’s statement.

The paper also stated the reporter had visited the complainants on two occasions, both before the trial.

After these visits, on 7 July, the complainants asked the paper not to approach them.

The paper had then learned that Mr Entwistle, a district councillor, could be disqualified as he had not attended the requisite number of council meetings.

The Guardian then contacted him once by e-mail for his comments.

The newspaper said that one reporter had attempted to speak to parents at the school and denied any “hounding” had taken place.

Referring to the photo, the Guardian said it had been taken discreetly from a car on a public road at a distance of 20-25 yards.

Mrs Entwistle was on a pavement by the main entrance when it was taken, the paper said.


The PCC said the Guardian was entitled to cover the many angles of the court case and wider story such as local context in Worksop and public reaction to Mrs Entwistle’s statement outside court.

The Commission did not consider that publishing a variety of letters was in breach of its Code.

Furthermore, as Clause 4 relates to the physical behaviour of journalists, the complaint the newspaper had harassed the couple by publishing items hostile to them did not fall for consideration under the Code.

The PPC was also satisfied approaches to the couple by reporters didn’t breach the Code as there was no suggestion it had been done in an intimidating fashion.

The reporter had not approached Mrs Entwistle at the school and attempts to speak to other people at that time did not give rise to complaints to the PCC.

The Commission also did not consider the e-mail requesting comments to be in breach of the Code, especially as it had been sent after the story after developed further and moved on.

In terms of the photo, the PCC said whether Mrs Entwistle was on school property or not was in this case not significant.

Given that the complainant was adjacent to the pavement and in public view, the PCC did not consider she was somewhere she had a reasonable expectation of privacy.

The photograph had not been taken as a result of harassment and the fact it had been taken from a car did not mean the picture was taken using subterfuge.

  • Worksop Guardian editor George Robinson has posted his response to the ruling as an audio clip on the newspaper’s website. He said he was pleased with the ruling as the paper had worked extremely hard to maintain balanced coverage and they were aware of the sensitivities involved throughout.