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Complainant Name:
Mr James Charters

Clauses Noted: 1, 3

Publication: Scottish Sun


Mr James Charters of Dumfries complained on behalf of his daughter Moira Charters and on behalf of Tracey Kirkpatrick that an article in the Scottish Sun on 11 June 1999 headlined "Wife left me for WPC" contained inaccuracies and represented an unjustified intrusion into their privacy in breach of Clauses 1 (Accuracy) and 3 (Privacy) of the Code of Practice.

The complaint under Clause 3 was upheld.

The article concerned David Kirkpatrick's claims of how his wife, Tracey Kirkpatrick, had left him for another woman, Moira Charters. The complainants said the article intruded into their privacy and gave an inaccurate impression of how the two women met and the reasons why Ms Kirkpatrick left her husband. Ms Charters had never been party to any dubious activities in her work as a police officer.

The newspaper said that Mr Kirkpatrick had spoken freely to them. They said they had received a series of telephone calls from members of the public regarding the situation. As the article related to a serving police officer, the matter was in the public interest. Police officers are referred to as pillars of society; they are therefore expected to behave in an exemplary fashion and must be accountable to the general community.



The Commission recognised that Mr Kirkpatrick was entitled to speak about his experiences and views. However, the central point of the story was that his wife had left him for another woman who is a police officer. In revealing the nature of Ms Kirkpatrick's new relationship and the fact that Ms Charters is a police officer, the Commission found that the article intruded into the two women's privacy. The Commission considers that police officers and other public servants are entitled to the same protection under the Code as anyone else. While there may sometimes be special circumstances relating to police officers, due to the nature of their role in the community, in this case the Commission could not see how the relationship between Ms Charters and Ms Kirkpatrick was a matter of public interest.

With regard to the complaints of inaccuracy, the Commission noted that the article was clearly presented as Mr Kirkpatrick's personal views. It made clear that the complainants did not agree with his account. The complaints under Clause 1 were rejected.


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