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Newspaper apologises over ‘insensitive’ funeral photo

A Scottish daily newspaper apologised after using an agency picture of a 13-year-old girl’s funeral which was taken without her family’s consent.

Hilary Buchanan complained to the Press Complaints Commission after The Scotsman carried a report on her daughter Holly’s funeral which she considered “unsympathetic and insensitive.”

The copy and photographs had been supplied by a news agency which had not obtained the family’s consent to publication.

Ms Buchanan argued that the newspaper had breached Clause 5 of the Editor’s Code of Conduct which covers intrusion into grief or shock.

The complaint was resolved when the PCC negotiated the removal of the photographs from the newspaper’s archive, a donation to the charity Children 1st, and the publication of an apology:

It read:  “On 23 February, we carried a report and a picture from the funeral of Holly Buchanan.  We have since been made aware that the agency which supplied the copy did not have the necessary consents in place.

“We would like to apologise for any upset caused to the family by the publication of the article and the picture.”

Other recent PCC cases involving regional newspapers included:

Kippin v The News, Portsmouth

Mr Dom Kippin complained under Clause 10 (Clandestine devices and subterfuge) that the newspaper had reported comments about his departure from Portsmouth Council.

The complainant accepted having spoken to the newspaper about his departure from the council; however, he said that this was in the context of a complaint, and he was aggrieved that his comments had subsequently been reported.

The newspaper did not accept that the article had breached the Code, but the complaint was resolved when the PCC negotiated the inclusion of a quote in the report, from Portsmouth Council’s Head of Services.

The photograph which had accompanied the online article was also replaced with one more to the complainant’s liking.

Pringle v Sunday Post

Mr Kevin Pringle, on behalf of the Scottish National Party, complained under Clause 1 (Accuracy) about an article which he considered had inaccurately suggested that the First Minister would be implementing the recommendation of the McCluskey report on Scottish press regulation.

The complainant was also concerned that the article had misleadingly suggested a link between the McCluskey report and the announcement of SNP plans to produce a campaign publication in the run up to the independence referendum, and a description of the campaign publication as “Pravda-like”.

The complaint was resolved after the PCC negotiated the publication of the following clarification:

“On 17 March, we published a story under the headline “Salmond gags press then launches his own paper”. We wish to point out that this related to the recommendations of an Expert Group which did not necessarily represent the views of the Scottish Government, and that since then the Scottish Parliament has unanimously agreed to Scotland’s participation in a UK-wide Royal Charter for the regulation of the press, subject to its amendment to reflect properly Scotland’s devolved responsibilities, Scots law and Scottish circumstances.

“We are happy to place on the record that the SNP launching a campaign publication for the independence referendum is unrelated to the issue of press regulation.”


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  • June 12, 2013 at 10:14 am

    “The photograph which had accompanied the online article was also replaced with one more to the complainant’s liking.”

    And with that one line strong journalism died

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  • June 12, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    House Rules
    Wrong … it’s the arrogance of people like you which makes the public distrust us so much – and with good reason. The attitude that we can stomp over people, to h*** with the consequences and certainly to h*** with any ounce of sensitivity.

    Exactly how do you argue that there is any public interest in a newspaper taking pictures at a funeral? I accept some of the public may be interested but that’s not the same thing. It really is a miserable profession. I wasted 25 years of my life (still am) but at least the (not surprising) demise of the industry means others won’t make the same mistake.

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  • June 14, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    I suggest you get out of our noble profession immediately and leave it to people who know what’s going on. The man in question wasn’t complaining about the funeral story, you plonker.

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