Clauses Noted: 3
Publication: Bellshill Speaker
Robert Carty & Co (Solicitors) of Hamilton, Strathclyde, complained on behalf of their clients Mr and Mrs James Skelton that an article which appeared in the Bellshill Speaker included the family's address which, given the nature of the court case that the article concerned, they said was an invasion of their privacy in breach of Clause 4 (Privacy) of the Code of Practice.
The article reported Mr Skelton's appearance in court after he had admitted shouting, swearing, fighting and having a sledgehammer, following what his lawyers claimed was a "campaign of terror" against him and his family home; he had previously given evidence against a man who had allegedly beaten him up.
The complainants objected that the family's full address had been given in the report. They said that, given the background of alleged intimidation against Mr Skelton, it was irresponsible of the newspaper to include this detail.
The newspaper responded that the address had been freely available on the charge sheet. They said that at no stage had their reporter been approached by Mr Skelton or his defence lawyer to request that the address not be published and no such order had been made in court.
As explained in its editorial on Court Reporting (Report No.24) the Commission upholds the right of newspapers to publish fair, accurate and contemporaneous reports of proceedings. In this instance the proceedings were in open court and the information was acknowledged by the complainants to be freely available on the charge sheet. The Commission did not consider that there had been any invasion of the complainant's privacy in the sense of Clause 4 of the Code.
The complaint was rejected.
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