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Complainant Name:
Ms Kay Carberry

Clauses Noted: 3, 6

Publication: Daily Mail


Ms Kay Carberry, of London, complained that an article headlined "Peter and friends" and an accompanying photograph published in the Daily Mail on 2 January 2000 intruded into the privacy of her son in breach of Clauses 3 (Privacy) and 6 (Children) of the Code of Practice.

The complaint was not upheld.

The complainant's son is the godson of the cabinet minister Peter Mandelson. The complainant and her son accompanied Mr Mandelson to the Millennium Dome on New Year's Eve and the photograph which accompanied the article showed the three of them arriving at the Dome and identified them by name. The article went into some detail about the background to the friendship between Mr Mandelson and the complainant and explained why this friendship led to Mr Mandelson becoming godfather to the complainant's son.

The complainant said that connecting the article - which discussed matters such as her son's parentage that had been in the public domain for 13 years - to the identification of the boy, who is 16, invaded his privacy. A recent biography from which the newspaper had apparently lifted the details had not mentioned the boy's name. The complainant said that she did not have any objections to a piece in the Mail on Sunday the previous day about Mr Mandelson's New Year's Eve which was supplied by Mr Mandelson himself and which was accompanied by a photograph of the boy and herself which used their Christian names. However, considerable embarrassment had been caused to her son by the publication of the article and the photograph which had also in her view only been published as a result of the fame or notoriety that her own connection with Mr Mandelson bestowed.

The newspaper said that the boy was 16 and not 'under 16' as specified in the Code. The details about him that were published were already, as the complainant had conceded, in the public domain and his photograph had been published the day before in another newspaper which had identified him by Christian name as Mr Mandelson's godson. Furthermore Mr Mandelson himself had provided the other newspaper with the photograph. It was likely that attention would focus on the guests of the man who was so closely associated with the Dome especially as Mr Mandelson had made public a photograph of his guests, given their Christian names and said that one of them was his godson. The Dome on New Year's Eve was not a place where a reasonable expectation of privacy could be expected. The newspaper argued that it was Mr Mandelson who had put the faces of the complainant and her son back into the public domain in the knowledge that details of their relationship to him had already been published and were also in the public domain. It added that the complainant's son had already been named in newspapers - as recently as April 1999 - and in a political autobiography.

The complainant reiterated that her chief complaint was that although the details had previously been put into the public domain they had never accompanied by a photograph of her son. It was the conjunction of the two that invaded his privacy.

Not Upheld


The Commission noted that the complainant had not objected to a photograph of her son, which identified him by his Christian name and which said that he was Mr Mandelson's godson, being published the previous day in a different newspaper. Neither did she appear to suggest that the reproduction of material that was in the public domain constituted a breach of the Code. The Commission noted that it was therefore being asked to consider whether the conjunction of a photograph of the boy with details that were already in the public domain amounted to a breach of the Code when the publication of either, but separately, would not breach the Code.

The Commission did not consider that it could realistically come to this conclusion. It had substantial regard to the extent to which the material was already in the public domain. Not only had the details that were contained in the article been discussed publicly in the recent past but the public had seen a photograph of the complainant and her son which had been provided to another newspaper by Mr Mandelson and about which the complainant said she had no complaint. That photograph had been captioned identifying both the complainant and her son by their Christian names and also identifying her son as Mr Mandelson's godson, and the caption also publicised the fact that Mr Mandelson had spent New Year's Eve with them. Any doubt as to the identity of his companions had therefore been removed when Mr Mandelson sanctioned the publication of that photograph and the Commission - as required by the Code - had to have regard to the fact that the identities of the complainant and her son had so recently been put into the public domain. Furthermore, as the complainant herself had agreed, New Year's Eve at the Millennium Dome was not somewhere where anybody would had a reasonable expectation of privacy, particularly in the company of somebody so closely associated with the Dome as Mr Mandelson.

While the Commission sympathised with the boy if any embarrassment had been caused to him it did not therefore consider it possible to criticise the newspaper for publishing two discrete pieces of information which the complainant accepted would not have raised cause for complaint under either Clause 3 or Clause 6 had they been published separately. The material was in the public domain and the complaint was not therefore upheld.


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