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Complainant Name:
A woman

Clauses Noted: 1, 9

Publication: Best


This complaint was adjudicated at the Press Complaints Commission's final meeting on 4 September 2014. While the PCC has now been closed, the ruling has been published on this website as a public record of the outcome of the complaint.

A woman complained to the Press Complaints Commission that an article published on the website of Best magazine,, on 14 May 2014 identified her as a relative of a person convicted of crime in breach of Clause 9 (Reporting of Crime) of the Editors' Code of Practice. She was further concerned that the article was misleading in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code.

The complaint was upheld.

The article reported that the complainant's husband had been found guilty of eight charges of inciting children to engage in sexual activity and two charges of making indecent images of children. It identified the complainant as his wife, naming her and giving details of her profession and education.

The complainant said that she was entirely irrelevant to the defendant's crime and - contrary to the article's implication - had been separated from him for over a year. While the fact of their marriage was of potential relevance, particularly as the material had been found at the marital home, this could have been reported without identifying her. Further, she had not been mentioned in court and had played no part in the proceedings. There was no public interest in identifying her.

The publication said that when it published the article on its website, it had been unaware that the complainant was separated from the defendant; it would have been relevant to its readers that a convicted sex offender was married to a professional, well-educated woman. After being informed (prior to the PCC complaint) of the separation by a representative of the complainant, it had amended the copy on this point and removed the complainant's name; it had subsequently removed the article. It accepted that, in the context of the separation, it should not have named her, and it apologised to her. It explained that because she had been publicly identified in other media coverage, it had not known that she objected to being identified, and noted that no court order preventing her identification had been imposed.



Under the terms of Clause 9, the publication should not have identified the complainant in its online article unless she was "genuinely relevant" to her husband's conviction. Although it was accepted by both parties that the defendant's marital status was of potential relevance to his crimes, the complainant herself was of no genuine relevance; her identification was not therefore justified, as the publication had accepted.

The article therefore raised a clear breach of the Code, which could have been avoided had the publication taken active steps to ascertain whether the complainant had consented to her identification in this context. The Commission took this opportunity to emphasise, again, that it is the responsibility of each editor to ensure that material complies with the Editors' Code, before publication. It is not acceptable to proceed on the basis that appropriate care will have been exercised by other publications.

The complainant was further concerned that the article had not made clear that the couple were separated. This was a point of significance, particularly in the context of the defendant's crimes and the potential effect on the complainant of being named as his wife. While the Commission accepted that the publication had swiftly corrected the article when made aware of the position, no evidence had been provided to suggest that it had made inquiries on this issue before publication. This constituted a failure to take care over the accuracy of the article, and a breach of Clause 1.

Date Published:

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