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Complainant Name:
Messrs Harbottle & Lewis on behalf of Ms Rula Lenska

Clauses Noted: 3, 4

Publication: Daily Mail


Ms Rula Lenska complained through solicitors Messrs Harbottle & Lewis of London, EC4, that the Daily Mail harassed her in breach of Clause 8 (Harassment) of the Code of Practice in order to obtain information, which she then gave in confidence. She said the information was published without her permission in an article on 3 May 1997 headlined "I just had to leave Dennis, or be destroyed by our marriage", thus intruding into her privacy, in breach of Clause 4 (Privacy) of the Code.

The complainant described how the journalist who wrote the story arrived uninvited at her home late one evening, seeking to write an article on the break-up of the complainant's marriage with Dennis Waterman. While unwilling to speak "on-the-record", the complainant revealed some details in confidence, explaining that should she choose to give an interview she would consider approaching the Daily Mail. No tape recording or notes were made by the journalist on the evening in question. When she later informed the journalist that she had chosen to speak to a Sunday newspaper instead, the complainant said that the journalist visited again and threatened to publish the confidential material should she not agree to an interview. The article then appeared in the Daily Mail.

The newspaper denied harassment, describing how, prior to the journalist's first visit, the complainant had made contact by telephone and had spoken of her marriage breakdown. The journalist then visited to arrange an interview and during that visit the complainant chatted without requesting confidentiality, saying that if she were to give a more extensive interview then she would speak further to the Daily Mail. The complainant subsequently contacted the journalist to say that she had changed her mind and would be speaking to a Sunday newspaper, whereupon the journalist visited again. The Daily Mail then published its article, considering that the complainant had placed her story into the public domain by speaking freely to the journalist on several occasions.

Not Upheld


The Commission noted that the parties' recollections varied as to the content and purpose of the several communications between them and also as to how the journalist had conducted herself when visiting the complainant's home. Taking into account the differing versions the Commission did not consider that the complainant had made out any case of harassment.

In relation to the alleged intrusion into privacy, the Commission found it unnecessary to comment on the differing recollections of the conversations in view of the fact that the complainant was clearly in discussion with another newspaper about the publication of details of her private life. Indeed the other newspaper published more information about the complainant's marriage on the day after the Daily Mail piece appeared. There was therefore no case for the newspaper to answer under Clause 4. Any agreement between the complainant and the Daily Mail journalist about confidentiality was not a matter for consideration under the industry's Code, and therefore outside the Commission's remit.

The complaints under Clauses 4 and 8 of the Code of Practice were rejected.


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