BBC's Newsnight condemned by Ofcom over 'very serious' privacy intrusion after showing journalist's dying moments - Press Gazette

BBC's Newsnight condemned by Ofcom over 'very serious' privacy intrusion after showing journalist's dying moments

Ofcom has upheld a complaint against Newsnight over the broadcast of
images which appeared to show the murdered journalist Lyra McKee in her
dying moments.

The BBC programme showed mobile phone footage which focused on her as
she lay on the ground at the centre of a crowd of people with her shoes

Ms McKee, 29, was shot dead by dissident republicans in Londonderry in
April 2019 as she observed rioting in the Creggan area of the city.

Nichola Corner, her sister, complained to Ofcom that Ms McKee’s privacy
had been infringed .

She said Ms McKee’s family had not been made aware that the images would be broadcast and the programme had been extremely distressing for them.

The watchdog said the report represented a “very significant intrusion
into Ms McKee’s right to privacy”.

It added: “Ms McKee was largely obscured by people standing around her
and only a brief glimpse of her trainers was visible.

“However, Ofcom considered that although no explicit detail of injuries
was shown, the footage was still of a highly sensitive nature because it
showed the final moments of someone who was dying.”

The report, titled The Real Derry Girls And The Dissidents, which was
shown on November 5 2019, looked at terrorism in Northern Ireland.

Ofcom said in its judgement: “Ms McKee had a legitimate expectation of privacy in relation to the broadcast of the footage of her in her dying moments, even though she was largely obscured and there was no close-up detail of her shown, and that the broadcast represented a very significant intrusion into her privacy.

“Ms McKee’s family said that they were unaware that the footage existed before it appeared in the programme and were unaware of the programme
before it was broadcast.

“The broadcaster said that it had assumed that the family would be informed of the programme by Ms McKee’s partner, who the broadcaster said it understood was aware of the production of the report and its intended broadcast.

“Ofcom considered that no attempt was made to obtain consent from Ms McKee’s family to broadcast the footage of her before the relevant material
was broadcast. Given the highly sensitive nature of the relevant footage and the potential distress which would be caused to the family by its inclusion, the broadcaster should have ensured that it had obtained the family’s informed consent.”

The BBC has apologised for the upset the programme caused the family and told Ofcom it regretted that Mrs Corner had not been informed about the programme in advance of its broadcast.



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Author: Dominic Ponsford

Dominic Ponsford is the editor of Press Gazette