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Murderer’s partner loses complaint over dailies’ reporting of trial

Trevor GibbonA murderer’s partner whose name was mentioned in court has had her complaint about two regional dailies’ reporting of the case thrown out by the press watchdog.

Trevor Gibbon, pictured left, was convicted in June 2015 of killing Alison Morrison by stabbing her 33 times after a long-running neighbour dispute.

But Gibbon’s partner Maria Perrett claimed her privacy had been breached after The News, Portsmouth, and the Belfast Telegraph reported on proceedings from court.

The articles in question were published during Gibbon’s trial, before he was convicted and sentenced to 28 years in prison.

There was one reference to the complainant in both articles: “Gibbon and his partner, Maria Perrett, rebuffed repeated attempts by the council and police to broker better relations‚Ķ”

The complainant, who had no been present in court, said that the statement was inaccurate, and that the inclusion of her name represented a breach of Clause 3 and Clause 9.

The News said in response that its article had been based on copy supplied by a national news agency, which had had a reporter in court.

On receipt of the complaint, the agency had confirmed that the reference complained of was an accurate report of what was heard in court and the complainant, who was genuinely relevant to the story, had been mentioned repeatedly as part of the prosecution case.

The Bel Tel said the complainant had been mentioned repeatedly in court and it was satisfied that it had not breached the Code.

Neither complaint was upheld, and the adjudications can be found here.

6 comments

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  • May 23, 2016 at 9:40 am
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    So an accurate report of what was said in open court (with no anonymity order by the judge presumably) is deemed worthy of an IPSO adjudication? I’m sorry, but is there not a process for deciding on whether a complaint is actually worth the time and resources necessary to investigate it? This and various other IPSO cases I’ve read about here on HTFP come across as a serious waste of professional people’s time.
    The woman in question had every right to not feel particularly happy about being mentioned in the court case. But did this really merit IPSO having to get involved when the paper obviously wasn’t at fault? I’d be interested in other peoples’ views on this one.

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  • May 23, 2016 at 10:53 am
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    Of course it should never have gone this far, but in the post-Leveson climate it appears that any form of complaint – no matter how invalid or trivial – is deemed worthy of an adjudication…

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  • May 23, 2016 at 4:05 pm
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    I imagine it followed the usual pattern of such things; she complained to the paper, the paper pointed out the legal position, and she was disinclined to believe them or spend five minutes on Google substantiating the correctness of the paper’s stance, so took it up the line in hopes of a ruling more to her liking. Perhaps if IPSO’s website had an FAQs page, for example making it clear that being mentioned in any newspaper report of anything without having given your express permission is not ipso (pardon the pun) facto an offence against the Code, a lot of this nonsense might be headed off at the pass. We can but hope.

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  • May 23, 2016 at 5:32 pm
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    Hope away, Steerpike. I once covered a case where a bloke opened up a love rival’s stomach with a carving knife. The bloke pleaded guilty, so the rival’s story was never heard – until I followed it up out of court, that is. The knife-wielding bloke had the nerve to take me to the old Press Complaints chaps, writing out said complaint from the depths of his prison cell.
    You couldn’t make it up…..

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  • May 24, 2016 at 11:05 am
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    On a much more mundane level I used to field endless moans from people who put in planning applications and did not want the results printed if they lost, despite applications being public documents and planning meetings being open to the public. I think I persuaded most that they were wasting their time complaining and never heard from the rest. Now everyone thinks they can sue or lodge a complaint.

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  • May 25, 2016 at 10:41 am
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    Yeah we still get lots of grief about planning applications (none of your business etc etc).

    My paper has an ipso complaint on-going after a statement from a violent attacker’s sister was read out in court in support of him.

    We quoted from it (no naming order on defendant so free to do so), Sister has gone to IPSO saying, like this one, breach of privacy etc.

    She also claims she was told be a police officer that she could not be named in the press (she’s an adult btw).

    We hear this more and more, people coming to us saying police have told them we can’t report names in court etc.

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