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Complainant Name:
A woman

Clauses Noted: 1, 5

Publication: Daily Star

Complaint:

A woman from Dorset complained that an article in the Daily Star on 4 April 2000 headlined “Beast chops out jail pal’s liver”, which reported the death of her brother, and a subsequent article published on the 5 April headlined “Mental hospital set Lector fiend free” were insensitive in breach of Clause 5 (Intrusion into grief or shock) and inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code of Practice.

The complaint was upheld.

The articles detailed the murder of the complainant’s brother by his prison cellmate and included specific reference to the injuries and mutilation suffered by the victim.

The complainant objected to the murder being compared to a notorious horror film which she thought made light of the murder. Further very specific details about the murder were highly distressing to the family of the deceased coming just one day after the death.

The newspaper said that the complainant had not denied the accuracy of the story as it related to her brother’s death. However, it sympathised with the complainant and offered to publish an apology and to send her mother some flowers.

The complainant did not accept this offer.

Decision:
Upheld

Adjudication:

As it relates to publication of material, Clause 5 of the Code is designed to prevent frivolous and insensitive reporting at times of grief and shock. It was clear to the Commission that the day after her brother’s death would be such a time for the complainant and her family and the Commission was not satisfied that the articles had shown sufficient sensitivity. The Commission was clear that a combination of unnecessary detail and the tone of the article had resulted in a breach of Clause 5 and the complaint was therefore upheld.

With regard to the complaint concerning the accuracy of the article, the complainant objected to the assertion that her brother had been convicted of ‘child abuse’ and that he was a ‘child abuser’. In fact, she said, he had been convicted of ‘child neglect’.

The newspaper stated that the crime had been serious as the man had been jailed for six months.

The Commission regarded the substitution of the term ‘abuse’ for ‘neglect’ as having created a misleading impression of the crime for which the complainant’s brother had been convicted. The Commission therefore viewed the resulting description of the conviction as being of significant inaccuracy to raise a further breach of the Code of Practice.

Report:
50



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