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Complainant Name:
Mr Patrick Harrington

Clauses Noted: 6

Publication: Searchlight Magazine


Mr Patrick Harrington of London complained that in an article in Searchlight Magazine on 1 January 1999, headlined "Never mind his politics", a reference to his 13 year old nephew was in breach of 6 (Children) of the Code of Practice.

Clause 6

The complaint under Clause 6 was upheld.

The piece, which appeared in a gossip column headlined "News from the Sewers", commented on the complainant's forthcoming marriage and referred to his former role within the National Front. It also referred to the earlier marriage of the complainant's sister to a former political colleague of the complainant's. It stated that the complainant's sister was estranged from her husband, but that she had decided to send her 13 year old son to live with him in order to influence her son's political ideas.

The complainant raised the complaint on behalf of his nephew. He objected that his nephew was identified and said that this marked him as a "potential target" for "political extremists".

The magazine said that the article was based largely on information the complainant's sister had volunteered in a telephone conversation with a journalist working under cover. They believed they were justified in identifying the complainant's nephew as they considered he needed to be "protected from far right activists".

The complainant said his sister denied speaking to a journalist, or indeed anyone else, about the matters referred to in the article. The magazine provided a telephone bill showing a call to the complainant's number and said the undercover journalist had spoken to the complainant's sister.



It appeared that the background to this complaint was a long-running dispute between the two parties, who hold radically opposing political views. However, the Commission did not find that the magazine had demonstrated an exceptional public interest, as required by the Code, for identifying of the complainant's 13 year old nephew in this context.

Clause 3

The complaint under Clause 3 was rejected. The complainant also objected on behalf of his sister and his fiancee that the piece was an unjustified invasion of their privacy in breach of Clause 3. He said that neither of them was a member of any political party and that the references to them in the context of a piece commenting on his own political past represented an unjustified intrusion into their privacy.

The magazine said that the complainant's girlfriend was not named and the article made clear she did not share his views. They believed the complainant's sister had a long association with "fringe politics".

The complainant said that as a teenager his sister was briefly a supporter of the Workers Revolutionary Party, but she had not been involved with any other political group.

The Commission noted that the complainant's fiancee was not named and it did not find that the reference to the forthcoming marriage represented an unjustified intrusion of her privacy. Nor did the Commission find that the reference to the marriage of the complainant's sister to the complainant's former political colleague represented an unjustified intrusion of her privacy. Marriages are a matter of public record.


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