Clauses Noted: 3, 6
Publication: Sunday Sun
Mrs Joanne Lloyd and Mr John Ogden of Coxhoe, Durham, complained that an article headlined "The magic of Christmas for us is..." published in the Sunday Sun on December 21 1997 intruded into their family's privacy in breach of Clause 3 (Privacy) and interviewed Mrs Lloyd's daughter on a matter involving her welfare in breach of Clause 6 (Children) of the Code of Practice.
The complainants are the mother and grandfather of one of the children featured in an article about childrens' views of Christmas. Several children had been interviewed and photographed at their primary school and had been asked to write down what they liked about Christmas. Some of their responses were reproduced in the article, including one from Mrs Lloyd's eight year old daughter who was quoted as saying that she missed her separated parents being together.
The complainants said that the newspaper had not asked their permission to publish what they regarded as private family details. They thought that the article consequently invaded their privacy and breached Clause 6 regarding the interviewing of children under the age of 16. The editor denied that the Code had been breached, pointing out that the journalist had arranged his visit to the school with the headteacher who had also been present as he spoke to the children.
It was clear to the Commission that the headteacher was a responsible adult under the terms of the Code, which requires that such a person must be present when children are questioned on matters involving their welfare. It could not therefore find any breach of Clause 6 regarding the manner in which the information was gathered. The Commission was pleased however that as a result of the complaint the newspaper had toughened its guidelines so that the adult responsible for the child should also be seen to be listening to the exchanges between the journalist and the child.
Regarding the complaint under Clause 3, the editor should have been aware that details regarding the marital status of Mrs Lloyd and her daughter's feelings about the situation were intrusive. Despite the fact that the story had been gathered in accordance with the Code, such details should have been omitted.
The complaint under Clause 3 was upheld.
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