The press watchdog has rejected a complaint against HoldtheFrontPage and two regional newspapers over coverage of a so-called ‘right to be forgotten’ case.
Two months ago the Oxford Mail reported that Robert Daniels-Dwyer had asked Google to remove from its search listings a 2006 Mail report of his conviction for stealing £200 worth of items from Boots.
It followed the recent ruling by the European Court of Justice which allows people to apply to the search engine giant to have “irrelevant” or “out of date” stories removed.
Mr Daniels Dwyer then complained to the Press Complaints Commission in respect of all four publications, claiming breach of privacy.
However HTFP and the other publishers have now been informed that no action will be taken.
A letter from the PCC to HTFP publisher Paul Linford stated: “After assessment, the Commission concluded that the complaint raised no breach of the Code of Practice and did not require further investigation.”
Explaining its decision, the Commission said continued publication of information already in the public domain did not constitute a breach of privacy.
“The complainant expressed concern that four publications published articles that reported the request and re-published details of his original conviction in breach of Clause 3 (Privacy) of the Editor’s Code of Practice,” it said.
“He said the newspapers had breached his privacy by publishing information, which the European Court of Justice had ruled should be removed from Google searches.
“He said that while there may be a public interest in reporting that the story had been removed, it did not need to publish the specific details of the story or identify him.
“He expressed further concern that other search removals by Google had not received as much attention as his story.
“The Commission noted that complainant’s objection to the re-publication of the details of his conviction that occurred eight years ago.
“It noted, however, that the recent ruling by the European Court of Justice on an individual’s “right to be forgotten” related specifically to internet search engine operators.
“The issue for the Commission to consider was not whether the articles breached data protection laws, but whether they breached the terms of the Editor’s Code of Practice.
“Given the importance of the general principle of open justice, the Commission did not consider that its continued publication represented a failure to respect the complainant’s private life.”