AddThis SmartLayers

Watchdog rejects complaints against two regional titles over child sex case

IPSO_logo_newThe press watchdog has rejected complaints against two regional newspapers over their coverage of a child sex case.

The Lincolnshire Echo and the Shropshire Star both reported that a man convicted of a number of child sex offences had had his appeal against his convictions dismissed.

It led to a complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation from the mother of the victim in the case, who said that the fresh coverage had caused her daughter distress

She claimed this was a breach of Clause 11 of the Editor’s Code of Practice which covers the identification of victims of sexual assault.

The mother claimed that her daughter could be identified from the stories as they had included the convicted man’s name, the city in which he had previously lived, and her daughter’s age at the time of the first offence.

However both newspapers denied publishing details that could lead to the identification of the victim.

In its defence, the Star said it had never intended to cause any distress, but that it was entitled to report court proceedings. It said that justice should be open and the newspaper was right to inform its readers of the court’s decision to reject the appeal.

The Echo said it was regrettable that the complainant and her daughter had been caused so much distress, but it had a duty to publish the results of criminal cases, and it was in the public interest to ensure that justice was done.

In its rulings, IPSO said that publication of the convicted man’s name, the city in which he used to live, and the age of the complainant’s daughter at the time of the first offence, were insufficient to contribute to the identification of the complainant’s daughter, and that the inclusion of these details did not breach Clause 11.

It said:  “The terms of Clause 11 do not prevent newspapers from reporting the proceedings in cases involving sexual offences, even where to do so may cause upset.

“While the Committee understood that the article had been distressing to the complainant’s daughter, the concern that the case had been the subject of more coverage, a few years after the original conviction, did not engage the terms of Clause 11.”

Neither complaint was upheld.