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Complainant Name:
A woman

Clauses Noted: 3

Publication: News Shopper (Bromley)


A woman complained that an inquest report in the News Shopper (Bromley) on 20 August 1997 about her late husband intruded into the family's privacy in breach of Clause 4 (Privacy) of the Code of Practice, in that it included far more detail than was necessary concerning her husband's tragic death.

Her late husband had died tragically due to asphyxiation, a victim of autoerotic asphyxia syndrome. The Coroner recorded a verdict of misadventure. The complainant was greatly concerned by the detail used in the piece, especially about the situation in which her late husband had been found, which she did not see had any relevance or potential "deterrent" value. She explained that publication of the article had been traumatic and damaging in several ways to her family's welfare, not least by referring to her late husband as having a sexual fetish. She considered this may have increased her youngest child's vulnerability, pointing out that the Coroner had not made any reference to the word "sexual". In her view the newspaper should have made more inquiries about their situation prior to publication.

The group editor replied that while the issue was a very sensitive one he had decided to publish on several grounds. The most important of these was that the Coroner had noted the presence of the press in court and issued a clear warning of the dangers of the behaviour that led to the tragedy.

Not Upheld


The Commission considered whether private information had been published in breach of Clause 4 of the Code and noted that although the detail given in the newspaper had greatly distressed the complainant, it had formed part of the evidence at the inquest. It was therefore public information which was not intrusive under the terms of the Code. Indeed the Commission also noted that, to some degree, the Coroner had wished to warn the public about the terrible dangers of the practice which had resulted in the tragic death. However, the Commission could not become involved in assessing the extent of any "deterrent" value the piece may have had.

The Commission did not uphold the complaint under the Code. Nevertheless, it was concerned that so much detail of the circumstances of the man's death was included particularly after a young child was affected.


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