Roisin Turnbull was dismissed by Northumbria Police after she attempted to cover-up an incident involving a drug dealer.
Turnbull pleaded guilty to improperly exercising the powers and privileges of a police constable when, along with another officer, she allowed a drug user to walk free with heroin in return for information about the dealer who sold it to him – an incident she subsequently attempted to cover up with a false intelligence report.
She complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that a journalist from Newcastle daily The Chronicle had “tricked” her into opening her front door after the hearing, at which point a photographer snatched a picture of her from a nearby vehicle.
She said the reporter, who she recognised from her court case, jumped out from the side and said her name when she answered her door.
Turnbull closed the door “within two seconds” and claimed she the journalist laughing from the vehicle when she looked out of her window afterwards.
Complaining under Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 3 (Harassment) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, Turnbull said that the encounter breached her privacy, and she considered that the manner in which she was “tricked” into opening the door constituted harassment.
The Chronicle defended its reporter, who it said acted professionally at Turnbull’s house and had introduced himself to her as a journalist at the newspaper prior to having the door shut on him.
It added it was standard practice for newspapers to illustrate stories about those convicted of criminal offences, that it was entitled to take pictures from a public place, and that the complainant was fully visible from the street when the photographer took the picture.
The Chronicle said there was a clear public interest in identifying a police officer who had behaved in the manner set out in the article and added that a further inaccuracy about the venue of her misconducted hearing, about which she had also complained, was due to an inaccurate press release issued by Northumbria Police.
IPSO found that photographing an individual in such circumstances was intrusive, but the limited level of intrusion in this instance was proportionate to the public interest The Chronicle had identified.
While it also found the manner in which the reporter made his approach to her constituted harassment, the conduct complained of did not constitute intimidation or harassment for the same reasons.
The complaint was not upheld, and the full adjudication can be read here.