Clauses Noted: 1, 3
Publication: News of the World
Dr K Khare of Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, complained that an article headlined "Doctor in £5000 plot to murder mistress" published in the News of the World on 1 February 1998 contained inaccuracies in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) and invaded her privacy in breach of Clause 3 (Privacy) of the Code of Practice.
The article detailed how the complainant's former lover, Dr Rangwani, had offered an undercover newspaper reporter money to murder the complainant. It was accompanied by a photograph of her as she was about to get into her car. She complained that she had not been told that the article was going to be published and that it invaded her privacy, giving details of her private life with Dr Rangwani and contemporary details including the ages of her children and the type of car she drove. She said that the photograph had been taken without her permission. She complained that some of the reported claims of Dr Rangwani regarding the affair and their business relationship were inaccurate. She said that the repercussions on her children and on her business were extremely damaging.
The newspaper said that the article was a result of an undercover investigation and that had Dr Rangwani approached someone else the complainant could have been murdered. It said that uncovering a murder plot and preventing its execution represented a high degree of public interest. It would not have been possible to tell the story without identifying the principals involved and that the identification of Dr Rangwani alone would have led to the complainant's identification.
The Commission sympathised greatly with the complainant and her family, for whom it must have been extremely distressing to read such dreadful details without prior warning. However, the allegations against her former lover were of the most serius nature and the Commission considered that their publication was clearly in the public interest -- one aspect of which, outlined in the Code, is detecting or exposing crime. It agreed with the newspaper that the story would have been impossible to tell without identifying the principals involved, even though one very unfortunate result was that the complainant herself became the subject of publicity. The Commission noted that the photograph appeared to have been taken when the complainant was about to get into her car and did not consider that in the circumstances she could have had a reasonable expectation of privacy.
With regard to the alleged inaccuracies, the Commission noted that the disputed claims were very clearly attributed -- mostly in direct quotations -- to Dr Rangwani and considered that readers would have viewed his claims in the context of the allegations against him.
The complaints were not upheld.
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