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Watchdog rejects MP’s bid to censure weekly over home security story

NewIPSOAn MP who claimed a weekly newspaper’s story about his home caused him security issues has had his complaint to the press watchdog thrown out.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation has rejected a claim against the Tenbury Wells Advertiser by Mark Garnier, Tory MP for Wyre Forest, in Worcestershire.

It came after the Advertiser reported Mr Garnier had “allegedly been living in a house [in Worcestershire] for 10 years despite being in breach of an agricultural occupation clause”.

The Conservative claimed the story had breached his privacy and had given rise to security issues for him, but IPSO ruled in the Advertiser’s favour after an investigation after finding the property’s address was already in the public domain.

Complaining under Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 2 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, Mr Garnier denied that he was relevant to the story because he did not own the property, had not been aware of any restrictions on the property and was not the local MP.

He further claimed he had been given inadequate time to respond to a request for comment and expressed concern that his parliamentary office had been contacted instead.

Denying any breach of Code, the Advertiser said Mr Garnier had been identified in a document relating to the property that was available on the local council’s website.

It added it had a duty to scrutinise the affairs of public figures, albeit fairly and accurately, and said Mr Garnier’s office manager had declined to comment after multiple approaches, although it offered to publish a further statement from him recording his position.

The Advertiser did not accept that the story included sufficient information to identify his home or reveal its exact location and decided not to publish his full address or an image of his home.

IPSO did not consider that the publication had failed to take care over the accuracy of the information within the story and found the details included were insufficient to identify the precise location of the property – further noting the property’s address was already in the public domain.

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