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Complainant Name:
A man

Clauses Noted: 3

Publication: The Northern Echo

Complaint:

A man from North Yorkshire complained that an article published by The Northern Echo on 24 October 2000, headlined “BSE may have hit youngest victim”, and a further article published by the Darlington & Stockton Times on 27 October 2000, headlined “Farmer’s son struck down by CJD”, revealed that his son had contracted new variant CJD in breach of Clause 3 (Privacy) of the Code of Practice.

The complaints were upheld.

The complainant stated that although the wrong Christian name had been used in the articles - in fact his own - his son had been clearly identified through the correct description of his surname, age and partial address.

The newspapers stressed that apologies had been published regarding the inaccurate aspects of the articles and personal assurances given to the complainant that there would be no further mention of the family in relation to the son’s illness. However, they stressed that information relating to the incidence of new variant CJD disease was a matter of legitimate public interest and that the specific information relating to the complainant’s son was already in the public domain.

Decision:
Upheld

Adjudication:

The Commission was not persuaded by the newspapers’ evidence that the boy’s name had been established in the public domain. The Commission has previously made clear that while reporting of the incidence of new variant CJD is a matter of legitimate public interest, the identification of somebody with the condition - and in particular a child - is not, unless permission has been given. In the Commission’s view, the story could have been written without including references likely to identify the victim. The Commission therefore upheld the complaint finding it a serious breach of the Code.

Report:
53



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