England football captain John Terry has had a privacy complaint against The Sun rejected.
Terry complained to the Press Complaints Commission that three articles about his mother and mother-in-law accepting formal cautions for shoplifting, published in March this year, identified him.
Terry’s solicitors argued that this was in breach of clause nine (reporting of crime) of the editors’ code of practice, which states: “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.”
They said the coverage was almost entirely focused on him when he was not genuinely relevant to the story and neither his mother, Mrs Terry, nor his mother-in-law, Mrs Poole, had sought publicity for themselves or sought to exploit their connection to the complainant.
The Sun pointed out that the pair accepted cautions for shoplifting from Tesco, one of the England team’s corporate sponsors, and Marks & Spencer, which supplied suits to the England football team.
The paper said that the crime was therefore genuinely relevant to Terry’s high-profile position as England captain, and in the public interest.
It said that both Mrs Terry and Mrs Poole – who had featured heavily in the exclusive media coverage of the complainant’s wedding for a national magazine – had benefited from his personal wealth, living in properties he had bought for them.
Rejecting Terry’s complaint, the PCC said: “The complainant, as captain, could reasonably be said to be the public face of the team.
“He was also one of the highest-earning footballers in the world who, it was said, provided for his family financially.
“The fact that – despite such wealth – his mother and mother-in-law had been involved in claims of shoplifting was clearly relevant to the matter.”