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Watchdog throws out woman’s claim that daily suggested she was racist

NewIPSOThe press watchdog has dismissed a woman’s claim that a regional daily court report suggested she was racist.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation has also ruled the Liverpool Echo was entitled to publish the woman’s name and partial address in a story it ran.

The Echo had reported a man’s concerns that his arrest by Merseyside Police had been “racially motivated”, after Liverpool County Court had ruled that his arrest was “not objectively necessary” and had been unlawful.

But the woman, whose complaint to the police had led to the man’s arrest, believed the story suggested that she herself was racist and claimed the publication of her details had breached her privacy.

Complaining under Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 14 (Confidential sources) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, the woman, unnamed in IPSO’s ruling on the matter, said she was not relevant to the story and was an innocent victim of a crime that had occurred in her home.

The Echo’s story stated that shortly after the man and his son had completed work in a part of the woman’s house, she had realised that a sum of money was missing from the property.

The woman then gave a witness statement to Merseyside Police but said she had not mentioned the man’s race in the statement or made any racist allegations against him.

She said that she was unaware of the court case subsequently brought by the man against Merseyside Police, and in any event did not consider herself relevant to the report of the case, expressing concerned that she could be easily identified from the information included within the story.

Denying a breach of Code, the Echo maintained the woman was relevant to the story because the report she made to Merseyside Police had led to the man’s arrest, with the alleged crime having taken place at her home.

The Echo also noted that the story made clear that the racial element was in relation to the man’s concerns about the motivation for his ”unlawful arrest” by Merseyside Police, and did not imply that her initial suspicions about him had anything to do with his race.

IPSO found there was no suggestion in the story that the woman’s report to the police had been motivated by racism and the witness statement provided to the police force had been included as evidence and, as a consequence, had been placed into the public domain.

As such, the publication of this information did not represent an intrusion into her private life.

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