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Convicted fraudster dies after making failed IPSO complaint

IPSO_logo_newA convicted fraudster died while the press watchdog considered her unsuccessful complaint against a regional daily over its reporting of her court case.

Agnieszka Macugowska complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Coventry Telegraph breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 3 (Privacy) and Clause 9 (Reporting of crime) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an online article which reported she had pleaded guilty to three of five fraud charges.

The article, published in June, said she had used other people’s bank details to pay for vouchers for beauty treatments and had been ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work, pay £1,200 in costs and £367 in compensation.

The complainant said at the time her complaint was made that she had pleaded guilty to three fraud charges in order to retrieve her passport, which had been confiscated and which she needed in order to return home for an urgent family matter.

She said she had not stolen bank details and had been sold £550 of vouchers by an unknown individual. The complainant also denied that upon her arrest, she had given a false name and attempted to conceal her identification documents.

In addition, the complainant said that the publication of her address had put her safety at risk, and the report that she had collapsed during the trial had disclosed private information about her. She noted that the article had also referred to her previous conviction, which was spent.

The Telegraph said it was not for it to decide whether the complainant had been guilty of the offences. It was its role to accurately report what had been heard in court. It said the complainant’s address and the fact that she had collapsed during the proceedings had been referred to in court.

With regards to the details of her arrest, the newspaper said that the court had heard that the complainant had told the police that her name was ‘Anna Anders’ and had tried to conceal her driving licence; it provided the reporter’s contemporaneous notes to support this position.

During IPSO’s consideration of the issue, the Committee was informed by her representative that she had passed away. However, the representative requested that the watchdog should still issue its decision.

The complaint was not upheld, and the full adjudication can be read here.