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Complainant Name:
Professor Ian Greer and Ms Lauren Sutherland

Clauses Noted: 3

Publication: Sunday Mail


Professor Ian Greer and Ms Lauren Sutherland of Glasgow complained that an article about them and their child headlined "Love child for top baby doc" in the Sunday Mail on 15 June 1997 intruded into their privacy and the privacy of their children in breach of Clause 4 (Privacy) of the Code of Practice.

The article described how the complainants, senior specialists in the medical and legal professions respectively, recently had a baby after separating from their previous partners. The article was illustrated with a photograph of the complainants with their new baby and quoted Professor Greer saying that they liked to keep their public and private lives separate.

The complainants said that they could see no public interest justification for this story, and were particularly concerned with the identification of their baby.



The Commission had previously considered complaints of inaccuracy which are not the subject of this adjudication but which concerned the complainants relationship and the birth of their child and also what they saw as the inadequacy of the published correction. In setting out their case on this and the privacy issue the complainants argued that the editor used his knowledge of the complaints system to minimise his responsibility. Before considering the complaint, the Commission wished utterly to refute the suggestion that the editor had behaved with anything other than integrity in dealing with the complaints. All editors are aware of the Code and the importance of remedying inaccuracies under it as swiftly as possible. That is one of the keys to effective self regulation - and it was what the editor had done. He was therefore complying with good practice - rather than deploying inside knowledge as a member of the PCC.

The Commission considered two discrete aspects to the complaint. First, the story involved a child - the welfare of which is always an important matter for the Commission.

In this case, the article had not named the child or published any details which could contribute to its identification. This was in line with the Code, and as such there was no case to answer.

More generally, however, the Commission had to consider whether there was sufficient public interest in the publication of a story about the complainants' personal lives. It was clear from the article, as far as the newspaper was concerned, that justification was the fact that Professor Greer held a high profile position as an obstetrician and was in a relationship with a lawyer who deals with cases of medical negligence. The Commission did not feel this justification was sufficient, and therefore found a breach of the code. This part of the complaint was upheld.


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