A complaint to the PCC from the mother of a sexual assault victim about a report in a Southampton based newspaper has been upheld.
The complaint was upheld on the basis that details in the article were likely to contribute to the identification of the victim.
The article reported a court hearing in which a man had admitted a charge of having unlawful sexual activity with the complainant’s teenage daughter. The report included the age of the victim and the dates of the offence. It also alluded to the man’s profession, named his place of work, and reported another charge against him.
The complainant said that the girl had been subject to bullying after a combination of details in the report had alerted the girl’s peers and others in their small town to her identity.
The newspaper said that it had given a great deal of consideration to protecting the complainant’s daughter, as it did with all such cases, while adhering to the accepted practice that accused criminals and their occupations should be identified.
It said it had been at pains to avoid reporting the relationship between the accused and victim.
However, the article was found to be in breach of Clause 7, children in sex cases, and Clause 11, victims of sexual assault of the Press Complaints Commision Editors’ Code of Practice.
The commission appreciated that attention had been paid by the editor to the need to protect the victim and made clear that the newspaper had been entitled to identify the accused, in accordance with the principle of open justice.
It considered that the published report had included information that was likely to contribute to the identification of the victim and was particularly concerned about the decision to include the dates of the offence in a context that may have implied the relationship between the accused and the victim.