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Complainant Name:
Prime Minister and Mrs Blair

Clauses Noted: 6

Publication: Daily Sport


The Prime Minister and Mrs Blair complained that an article headlined "Horny Blair" and accompanying photographs of their son published in the Daily Sport on 21 December 1999 breached Clause 6 (Children) of the Code of Practice.

The complaint was upheld.

The photographs were taken at a ball which the complainants' son attended and showed him dancing with and kissing a girl. The accompanying text and photograph captions identified him by name.

The complainants said that their son had been photographed without their permission in breach of Clause 6 (ii) of the Code and that Clause 6 (v) had also been breached. That part of the Clause requires that there must be justification for the publication of any material about a child's private life other than the position of his or her parents.

The editor said that the party had become a regular diary event for newspapers and photographic agencies who attended at the invitation of the organisers. He sent the Commission articles from previous years about which there had never been any complaints. He said that the complainants' son had not been photographed on a subject involving his welfare and that in any case the event's organisers, whom the editor contended were acting in loco parentis, had not raised any objection to the photographs being taken. The editor further denied that Clause 6 (v) had been breached as the material did not relate to the boy's private life but to his behaviour at a public event.



The Code provides protection to all young people and entitles the children of famous or notorious individuals to grow up normally undertaking everyday activities - which may include attending parties in commercially-run venues - free from the fear of ensuing publicity. In this case, the complaint rested on a conjunction of Clause 6 (ii) and Clause 6 (v) because the boy was photographed without permission and then named in the article as a result of the position of his parents.

The purpose of Clause 6 is to protect the welfare of children under the age of 16 - and that means that newspapers should take particular care to seek full and proper consent when publishing pictures of children which might embarrass them, interrupt their schooling or damage their welfare in some other way. In this case the pictures - which only identified the boy because of the position of his parents - could clearly have had such an impact on the boy's welfare. The Commission did not agree that the event's organisers - who may have had a commercial motive for sanctioning the photographs - were in a position to give such permission. They were clearly not acting in loco parentis.

The Commission considers that, in cases such as this where the child is under 16 and it is clear who the child is, permission to publish such photographs should first be sought from the parents. As in this case it had not, Clause 6 (ii) had been breached. If it is not clear who a child's parents are the newspaper should be able to demonstrate that it has attempted to check that permission was sought from those with appropriate authority. The Commission noted that none of the other children was identified other than by their picture and therefore to name the complainants' son was an obvious breach of Clause 6 (v).

The Commission was pleased to note that no other newspapers used these photographs which had been made widely available by the photographic agency. This clearly showed the Code to be working to protect the welfare of all children.


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