Clauses Noted: 5
Publication: Express & Star (Wolverhampton)
Ms Irene Rawlings of Penn, Wolverhampton, complained that an article headlined "Jayne's trolley dash to help tribute to tragic Santino" in the Express & Star on 8 August 1998 was published in breach of Clause 5 (Intrusion into grief or shock) of the Code of Practice.
The complainant's young nephew Santino had died tragically in July and the article was published without warning to the family. It described a supermarket "trolley dash" to raise funds in tribute to the deceased. However, the complainant described how the piece shocked her brother and his wife, Santino's parents, who knew nothing of the tribute at that time.
The newspaper explained that it was asked to cover the event and had done so in good faith, wishing to accommodate the people in the community who were seeking to raise funds for such a worthy cause.
The Commission sympathised greatly with the complainant's family, who had in the recent past made clear that they did not want publicity. Nevertheless, the Commission was in no doubt that the newspaper had acted with good intention and had considered the need for sensitivity. Only with hindsight had it become clear to the Express & Star that their decision to publish the piece - without contacting the complainant's family, for fear of upsetting them further - had caused even more grief, especially to the deceased's bereft parents, who had been unable to take heart from the show of local sympathy demonstrated by the article. However, the choice the newspaper had made in publishing the piece to accommodate the kindly well-wishers had been compelling; although very regrettably it had resulted in additional distress, the Commission still considered it reasonable that the newspaper had not declined the story.
The complaint under the Code was rejected.
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