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Complainant Name:
A woman

Clauses Noted: 4, 9

Publication: Croydon Advertiser


A woman complained to the Press Complaints Commission that the Croydon Advertiser had harassed her in breach of Clause 4 (Harassment) of the Editors' Code of Practice in May 2013, and had published an article which identified her in breach of Clause 9 (Reporting of Crime) of the Code in June 2013.

The complaint was upheld.

The complainant was the sister of a man who had been convicted of a high-profile murder. Her father had contacted the PCC in October 2012 and again in January 2013 raising concerns about approaches by journalists to his family. On each occasion a private advisory notice had been circulated by the PCC explaining that the family - including the complainant - would not be speaking to the press and did not wish to be contacted by journalists. Nonetheless, in June 2013 the newspaper had sent a reporter to the complainant's home in order to obtain her comment; the reporter had been informed by the complainant's partner that she was not available and did not wish to comment.

In June 2013 the newspaper published a feature about the complainant's brother, who had been convicted of murder. It included the complainant's first name and the town in which she lived. The complainant said that she was irrelevant to the crime and should not have been named in the article.

The newspaper said that it had received but had not registered the advisory notices issued by the PCC. It had certainly not disregarded the family's request deliberately; rather, it had been an oversight. When informed that the complainant did not wish to comment, the reporter had immediately left and had not returned to the house.

The newspaper acknowledged that the complainant did not deserve to be associated with her brother's crimes. It noted, however, that the article had been a feature about his background, and the fact that the complainant still lived in the area in which he grew up made her relevant in that context. It had not revealed the area of the town in which she lived.



Under the terms of Clause 4 (Harassment) of the Editors' Code, journalists must not persist in questioning, telephoning, pursuing or photographing individuals once asked to desist. The newspaper had twice been informed that the complainant would "under no circumstances" comment on her brother's crime and that she did not wish to be approached by any members of the press. Its further approach to the complainant's home was entirely unjustified and raised a clear breach of Clause 4.

Clause 9 (Reporting of Crime) states that "relatives or friends of persons convicted or accused of crime should not generally be identified without their consent, unless they are genuinely relevant to the story". The article had, in the view of the Commission, clearly identified the complainant. She was an innocent party, irrelevant to her brother's conviction, and no public interest was served by publicly associating her with his crime. This raised a further breach of the Code.

Date Published:

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