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Watchdog clears newspaper over mention of 14-year-old girl

NewIPSOA daily newspaper has been cleared of breaching the Editor’s Code over an article about a terminally-ill man which mentioned his 14-year-old daughter.

The Western Mail published an interview with a man with terminal liver failure under the headline “I am about to die because I spent my life drinking too much.”

The article described the man as “a 56-year-old single dad to his 14-year-old daughter” and gave the daughter’s first name.

This resulted in a complaint from the girl’s mother, the custodial parent, on the grounds that it breached Clauses 2 (Privacy), 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock) and 6 (Children) of the Editors’ Code.

The complainant said neither she not her daughter had been contacted before publicaion to ask for permission to mention the girl.

She said it had impacted her daughter’s time at school and that her daughter had been approached by other students who had heard about the situation via the article.

The Mail did not accept it had berached the Code, arguing that the main focus of the piece was the man’s personal lifestyle change in the light of his prognosis.

It said that the Code did not prohibit parents from mentioning their children and that the brief reference to the name and age of the girl did not amount to intrusion into her time at school.

In its ruling, IPSO’s Code Committee said that while Clause 6 made clear that the permission of custodial parents is required when children are interviewed or photographed, the Clause was not engaged as the complainant’s daughter was neither interviewed nor photographed, she was simply mentioned.

While the Committee was mindful of the balance between the right of the father to tell his story, and the daughter’s right not to experience unnecessary intrusion, it did not find that the article’s limited reference to the daughter constituted unnecessary intrusion into her schooling.

It said that neither Clause 4 nor Clause 2 stipulate that contact must be made with the custodial parents of children who are mentioned in articles, even in circumstances which parents may consider private or intrusive into their children’s grief or shock.

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