The Press Complaints Commission is facing more criticism over its controversial ruling on the use of photographs of a plane crash.
Earlier this month the Northern Echo was censured for publishing a picture of a glider pilot receiving treatment after crashing into a field.
The victim’s wife complained that the picture amounted to intrusion into grief or shock under Clause 5 of the Editor’s Code of Practice.
Echo editor Peter Barron later described as “questionable” the watchdog’s decision to uphold her complaint.
Paul says that had the ruling been applied to pictures taken during the Troubles, many of those images would never have been published.
Wrote Paul: “Clause 5 exists to protect grieving families from harassment. It exists to ensure reports about death and bereavement are published with sensitivity.
“It does not exist to prohibit legitimate reporting of newsworthy events.
“Crash-landing your glider into a field and having to receive medical treatment might lead to unwanted publicity. But it is a legitimate and newsworthy event to record.
“The implications of this ruling could be severe. Many of the raw images from the Troubles would never have been seen: left locked in photographic vaults.”
Paul said that if left unchallenged the ruling could have serious consequences for news-gathering and, therefore, for the promotion of an open society.
His piece can be read in full on the Belfast Telegraph website