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Sister titles absolved by IPSO after publishing missing person appeal

ipso-green-320Five sister news titles which published an appeal to help find a missing man have been absolved of wrongdoing after his mother complained to the press watchdog.

The unnamed woman claimed she had asked that no information went to the press after reporting the disappearance of 26-year-old Nevon James to a missing person’s charity.

But appeals to help find Mr James, from Catford, South London, were subsequently published on the websites of a number of Newsquest newspapers.

Mr James’s mother complained to the Independent Press Stadards Organisation under Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy), Clause 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock) and Clause 12 (Discrimination) of the Editors’ Code of Practice about the article’s appearance on the This is Local London website, as well as the sites of two of the company’s daily newspapers, The Argus, in Brighton, and the Bournemouth Echo, and weeklies the Surrey Comet and Middlewich Guardian.

The appeal, which was provided to Newsquest by the police, stated that Mr James suffered from Asperger’s syndrome and had a mental age of 16.

The complainant said that both these claims were inaccurate because, at the time of publication, he did not have a diagnosis for Asperger’s.

She said the police had apologised to her for releasing the information to the press in error, but said the appeal had been published in an insensitive manner by the newspapers.

The five Newsquest titles said they had published on the basis that the information was not only safe to use, but the party involved would want the publication to publish as much information as possible.

In this case, the article had reported the details supplied to its reporter by the police entirely accurately but offered to add the police’s error and apology to her into the article, as well as a further piece confirming Mr James had been found.

IPSO found the articles were published in good faith using information provided by the police, and there was no failure to take care not to publish inaccurate information.

The complaints were not upheld, and the full adjudications can be read here.