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Complainant Name:
Mrs Joan Harvey

Clauses Noted: 5

Publication: Rochdale Observer


Mrs Joan Harvey of Littleborough, Lancashire complained on behalf of Mr D Rawlinson that a report in the Rochdale Observer on 6 January 1999, concerning the death of Mr and Mrs Rawlinson's son, Michael, breached Clause 5 (Intrusion into grief or shock) of the Code of Practice. The complainant explained how upsetting the description given to the deceased's injuries had been to the family, to whom the chosen wording, including three references in a short article to "stomach cut open" and two to "guts hanging out" had been cruel and insensitive.

The Commission upheld the complaint.



The editor himself had admitted that, with the benefit of hindsight, it would have been more appropriate to refer to the deceased's injuries in less detail - and the Commission agreed with him. The editor had also taken the correct action in apologising for the distress caused.

However, the original article - with so many references to the deceased's horrific injuries - had clearly been put together without any thought for its impact on those who knew the man, and in doing so breached Clause 5 of the Code by intruding into the family's grief and shock.

In reaching this decision, the Commission stressed it was not based on any evaluation of taste or offensiveness, which were not matters which fell to be decided under the Code.


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