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Complainant Name:
Messrs Lewis Silkin on behalf of Mrs Isobel Stone

Clauses Noted: 3, 6, 10

Publication: News of the World


Messrs Lewis Silkin, Solicitors, complained on behalf of their client Mrs Isobel Stone that an article headlined "Queen evicts cheated wife", published in the News of the World on 10 October 1999, was inaccurate in breach of clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code of Practice and was an invasion of her privacy and that of her son in breach of clauses 3 (Privacy) and 6 (Children). She further complained that the reporter had taped conversations without her consent in breach of clause 8 (Listening devices).

The complaint was rejected.

The article reported that Mrs Stone and her son were being evicted by the Queen from their home after Mr Stone, a gardener at Windsor Castle, had left his wife.

The complainants said that Mrs Stone had not consented to the article being published and therefore viewed it as an invasion of privacy. While she had willingly spoken to the reporters, she had not consented to publication without seeing what was to be published. She also objected to the identification of her 14 year old son in the article.

The article contained inaccuracies: she had not "wept", did not "seethe" or use the phrase "out on the streets"; she did not refer to her husband as "the Queen's golden boy" or say that she would stand in the garden with a placard round her neck; there was no note written by Mr Stone's mother to his lover - it was merely an envelope; the extract of a letter was not a copy of the actual letter but an extract of what Mrs Stone had read out over the telephone; she had not said that the Royal Family had done her husband's dirty work for him; her daughter had not said that Mr Stone turned the light off while she was in the bath but while she was doing her homework; she had referred to her husband having an affair with a wealthy woman but had not spoken of Lady Chatterley. As evidence was submitted by the newspaper, it became clear that conversations with Mrs Stone had been recorded without her permission. The complainants viewed this as the unauthorised use of clandestine listening devices.

The newspaper supplied a copy of a tape recording of a conversation between the complainant and the reporter which took place two days after publication. This contained the complainant describing the positive response that she had had from people who had read the article. She did not appear to be aggrieved and the conversation was friendly and lighthearted. While the complainants did not dispute this they said that in an earlier telephone conversation Mrs Stone had expressed her displeasure at publication.

The newspaper supplied a memo from the freelance reporters who wrote the story in which they stood by descriptions of Mrs Stone's demeanour and the quotations attributed to her.

Not Upheld


The Commission noted that the essential facts of the article had not been denied and that the complainant had spoken willingly to reporters with the intention of "preparing the ground" for publication of her story at some stage. In these circumstances it did not view publication as an invasion of her privacy and noted that her son had neither been named nor photographed in the article. While there was a dispute about minor points of accuracy, the Commission did not believe that the article contained any factual inaccuracies or descriptions which were matters of significance. It did not view the recording of telephone conversations as involving the use of a "clandestine listening device" as specified in clause 8 of the Code.


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