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Complainant Name:
Revd Pat Brown

Clauses Noted: 1, 2, 3, 12

Publication: Nottingham Post


Revd Pat Brown of Woodthorpe, Nottingham, complained that an article headlined "Vicar's girl shopped by own family" published in the Nottingham Evening Post on December 20 1997 contained inaccuracies in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy); that a published letter was an inadequate opportunity to reply in breach of Clause 2 (Opportunity to Reply); that the article intruded into his family's privacy in breach of Clause 3 (Privacy); and that references to his religion were pejorative or prejudicial in breach of Clause 13 (Discrimination) of the Code of Practice.

The complainant denied that his family had "shopped" his daughter to the police and objected that a supposed photograph of his daughter and interview with her had in fact been supplied by an impostor. He was not satisfied with the editor's response which was to print a correction and apology in the next edition regarding the impersonator and later to publish an edited letter from the complainant rejecting the allegations

The editor drew attention to his efforts to remedy the accepted mistakes but explained that the allegation that the complainant's family had informed the police of his daughter's activities came from a confidential police source.

Not Upheld


Although an editor's right to protect a confidential source of information is rightly enshrined in the Code of Practice, in this case it meant that there was no supporting evidence for the claim that the complainant's family had "shopped" the woman to the police. The Commission therefore welcomed the editor's swift move to remedy the error regarding the impersonator, but did not consider that, in light of the serious nature of the allegation, the published letter was a sufficient remedy.

The complaints under Clause 1 and 2 were therefore upheld.

Given that details about the complainant were given in court where his daughter was convicted for drugs offences the Commission did not consider that there was any case to pursue under Clause 3 and did not consider that the references to the complainant's profession, also given in court, were prejudicial or pejorative to his religion in breach of Clause 13. These complaints were rejected.


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