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Complainant Name:
Christine Hussain

Clauses Noted: 11

Publication: Herts Advertiser


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 Herts Advertiser in 2012 included information likely to identify her as a victim of sexual assault, in breach of Clause 11 (Victims of sexual assault) of the Editors' Code of Practice.

The complaint was not 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; references that had the potential to suggest her nation of origin; the approximate date and location of her arrival; the city where she lives in the UK; and how she had met her attacker.

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 the fact that the victim had come to the UK to study and references that suggested her national background.

The newspaper said it was confident that it had removed sufficient details from the report to respect the victim's privacy; it believed it had taken every step possible to protect her while still ensuring relevant details of the case were included.

Not Upheld


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 considered that the newspaper had come extremely close to breaching the Code on this occasion. In particular, it was concerned that the article had set out the chronology of the victim's arrival in the UK. It asked the newspaper to pay particular attention in future to the stringent requirements of the Code in this area. Nonetheless, the Commission narrowly concluded that there was no breach of Clause 11. It did not uphold the complaint.

Date Published:

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