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Complainant Name:
Dr A Malik

Clauses Noted: 4, 10

Publication: The People


Dr A Malik, of Malik Law Associates, London E2, complained that reporters from the Sunday People had harassed him in breach of Clause 4 (Harassment) and used subterfuge in breach of Clause 11 (Misrepresentation) of the Code of Practice.

The complaints were rejected.

The complainant, whose firm was involved with immigration cases, said that on 3 November 1999 he had seen a man whom he knew to be a reporter attempting to take photographs of his staff. The complainant also said that on two occasions a man whom he now knew to be a freelance reporter came to his offices under false pretences to see whether or not he was involved in illegal practices regarding illegal immigrants. No article was published but there was no public interest in employing the subterfuge.

The newspaper did not deny that its reporters had investigated Dr Malik, following information received about his law practice. In doing so it was acting quite legitimately in the public interest. The newspaper then drew the Commission's attention to an article in the Independent which was published after the complaint had been lodged. It detailed how an undercover reporter for that newspaper had been helped by staff at the complainant's offices to make false applications for asylum. It also said that the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors had closed down the complainant's offices and that it was believed that the OSS was investigating misconduct. No complaint about the accuracy of this article was received by the Commission.

Not Upheld


The Commission had no hesitation in rejecting the complaint. Not only was there no evidence of harassment but it was clear that the newspaper was quite rightly investigating a matter of great public interest, as the subsequent story in the Independent highlighted. It is not the role of the Commission to intervene in the legitimate pursuit of stories - which may involve justifiable subterfuge - and the Commission will not tolerate complainants seeking to abuse its powers in this way.


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