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Daily cleared over wrong address for sex offender after court error

scales-of-justiceA woman complained to the press watchdog after a court wrongly confirmed to a regional daily that her address was that of a sex offender.

Sharon Campbell went to the Independent Press Standards Organisation after Stoke-on-Trent daily The Sentinel listed the road and village where she lived as the home of her ex-partner.

The Sentinel reported the man had pleaded guilty to three charges of making indecent photographs of children and possession of an extreme pornographic image.

But, complaining under Clause 1 of the Editors’ Code of Practice, Ms Campbell said the defendant no longer lived there, and the court had confirmed prior to the case being reported on that the address had been removed from the file.

She told IPSO she had spoken to the court, who had told her that The Sentinel had not been in contact with them to confirm the address.

The Sentinel accepted the information was inaccurate but denied a breach of Code, and provided IPSO with an email it had sent to the court prior to publication of the story containing a list of defendants and the corresponding addresses it had for those individuals, for the court to either approve or change.

In this case, the court had not changed the address or otherwise indicated it was inaccurate and said that on this basis it had taken care not to publish information that was inaccurate.

Upon receipt of Ms Campbell’s complaint The Sentinel contacted the court, which confirmed that the defendant’s address was not that which had been published.

It immediately amended the article and when Ms Campbell indicated she wanted a correction, it offered to add a footnote to the story.

IPSO found The Sentinel was entitled to rely on the information confirmed by the court, and had taken steps to ensure it was not publishing inaccurate information.

The story did contain an inaccuracy with regards to the defendant’s address, but the paper had amended the story to remove the address and offered a correction as soon as Ms Campbell requested one to be added.

The complaint was not upheld, and the full adjudication can be read here.