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Complainant Name:
Messrs Stronachs Corporate on behalf of a woman

Clauses Noted: 3

Publication: The Mail on Sunday


Messrs Stronachs Corporate, solicitors of Inverness, complained on behalf of a woman that an article in The Mail on Sunday on 28 February 1999 constituted an invasion of her and her childrens' privacy in breach of Clause 3 (Privacy) of the Code of Practice.

The complaint was rejected

The article described how the complainant, an unmarried woman, has adopted three young brothers. It described this as "a remarkable story of one woman's determination to overcome the rigours of the British adoption system" and quoted her as saying how happy she was and that she wanted to share her happiness with everyone.

The complainant objected to what she saw as an invasion of her privacy and that of her three sons. They live in a remote rural community and she believed press exposure would upset the boys as well as identifying their new location to their birth parents. Prior to the article she had placed an announcement in her local paper to the effect that the adoption process had been completed. A reporter had then contacted her but she had informed him that she did not wish an article to be published and did not give him her consent. In spite of these objections the article was published.

The newspaper replied that they were sorry that the complainant was distressed. However, she had herself placed the matter in the public domain by making an announcement in the local paper which has an appreciable circulation. They argued that it is unrealistic for someone who does so to expect to retain control over how and where the information later appears. They said that the complainant had made clear to their reporter that she did not want more publicity but that the conversation had been conducted on good terms. The newspaper said that it had placed a note on its library file to ensure that anyone referring to the matter in future would be aware that the complainant wished her privacy to be respected.

Not Upheld


Clause 3 of the Code says that "Everyone is entitled to respect for his or her private and family life" and the Commission appreciated the wish of the complainant to protect her children from publicity. However, she had paid for space - and a photograph of her with the boys - in another newspaper in order to announce the details of her private and family life which the Mail on Sunday reported. While the local newspaper may have a smaller circulation than a national newspaper, the Mail on Sunday was re-running material which was publicly available and to which the complainant had consented. There was therefore no breach of Clause 3 of the Code.


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