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Editors’ Code amended to highlight mental health protection

neilbensonThe Editors’ Code of Practice has been revised to highlight the protection it offers to people with mental health issues.

The Editors’ Code of Practice Committee, which writes and revises the code of standards policed by the Independent Press Standards Organisation, has amended Clause 2 (Privacy) to have mental health added to the categories it protects.

The change also aligns the wording of Clause 2 (Privacy) with Clause 12 (Discrimination), which already refers to physical and mental health.

The change comes into effect on 1 January 2021 and is the result of a public consultation on the Editors’ Code of Practice.

The amended Clause now reads: “Everyone is entitled to respect for their private and family life, home, physical and mental health, and correspondence, including digital communications.

“Editors will be expected to justify intrusions into any individual’s private life without consent.

“In considering an individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy, account will be taken of the complainant’s own public disclosures of information and the extent to which the material complained about is already in the public domain or will become so.

“It is unacceptable to photograph individuals, without their consent, in public or private places where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

Editors’ Code of Practice Committee chairman Neil Benson, pictured, said: “The committee believes that this revision will improve understanding of the protection that the privacy clause provides for individuals.

“Mental health was already covered implicitly in the clause, but the amendment makes this explicit and is a timely reminder of the changing attitudes in society.

“Mental health is now openly acknowledged and the press can take some credit for driving that welcome transformation.”

New Year’s Day will also mark the 20th anniversary of the Code coming into force for the first time.