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Complainant Name:
Miss V M Oliver

Clauses Noted: 5

Publication: Manchester Evening News


Miss V M Oliver of Rochdale complained that a report published in the Manchester Evening News on 9 March 1998 about her daughter's death headlined "Body-in-bath probe" contained the news prior to any positive identification, in breach of Clause 5 (Intrusion into grief or shock) of the Code. At the time of publication the complainant was still hoping that it was not her daughter.

The editor regretted the distress caused to the complainant, explaining that the deceased's identity was confirmed by a reliable police source on the morning the piece was published. Although the newspaper had been unable to trace or talk to any relatives prior to publication, there was no reason to believe that the complainant's family were not aware of the death.



The Commission has always considered that it is not the job of newspapers or magazines to break the news of a death to the family or close friends of a deceased person. This had clearly happened in this case aparently following a tip off from the police to the newspaper. It is arguable that the source for the story should have apprised the newspaper of the difficulties in identifying the deceased - and the fact that the relatives had not been informed. Whether or not that happened, the newspaper should have made efforts to find out what the family knew before publication.

The complaint was upheld.


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