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Complainant Name:
Christine Hussain

Clauses Noted: 11

Publication: South Wales Argus


Christine Hussain, an Independent Sexual Violence Adviser at the Emerald Centre Sexual Assault Referral Centre, complained on behalf of a client of the Centre to the Press Complaints Commission that an article published in the South Wales Argus in 2012 included details about her that breached the terms of Clause 11 (Victims of sexual assault) of the Editors' Code of Practice.

The complaint was upheld.

The article was a report of trial proceedings in which the defendant faced counts of rape and sexual assault, and several other charges. It included the victim's age; the fact that she had come to the UK from abroad to study; her country of origin; the approximate date and location of her arrival in the UK; the name of the institution at which she was studying; how she had met her attacker; and references to her living arrangements and professional aspirations.

The complainant said that the article had contributed to her client's identification as the victim in the case. She was particularly concerned that it had included her client's country of origin and details of her study.

The newspaper said that it took seriously its responsibility to ensure the anonymity of victims of sexual assault, and it believed that it had met that obligation in this instance. The court case had been of interest to its readers because the defendant was from the local area, and it had published copy supplied by a news agency in good faith. After its initial report had named the educational institution at which the victim was studying, the agency - and the newspaper - had agreed to a request by the police and the victim to omit this information from subsequent reports.



The article was one of four under complaint that had been published on the same day about this case. Each included different aspects of the information that had been heard in court.

The Commission understands that it can be difficult in such cases for editors to strike a balance between including details that will enable readers to understand the crime with which the defendant is charged, and omitting those likely to contribute to the victim's identification in breach of Clause 11.

The Commission acknowledged that the newspaper had taken some steps to remove identifying detail from its report, and that it had complied with a request by the victim and police to remove a further detail. Nonetheless, it considered that taken together the details in the article - and particularly the information about the victim's travel to the UK and her education - were strongly likely to contribute to her identification.

The complaint was upheld.

Date Published:

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