Evening Chronicle rapped by PCC for accidentally revealing confidential source

The Press Complaints Commission has upheld a complaint made against the Evening Chronicle in Newcastle for accidentally identifying a secret source.

A former female employee at the Rural Payments Agency, a government body the paper had written some unfavourable stories about, sent the paper an email to share some of her experiences at the agency and asked to remain anonymous.

A trainee reporter from the Chronicle then forwarded her email to the RPA for it to comment upon but failed to remove the employee's details. The commission ruled the Chronicle breached clause 14 of the Editor's Code of Practice which states that "journalists have a moral obligation to protect confidential sources of information".

The PCC said it was a thoughtless error and a clear breach of the clause which it said was as a basic principle of journalism.

The paper accepted it had made a serious mistake and apologised to the RPA employee. The trainee reporter was formally disciplined and the paper subsequently offered to send the complainant another apology either in private or in print.

The complainant said she was unhappy with the paper's efforts to resolve the matter and that it did not act quickly enough but the PCC ruled that its criticism of had been limited by the paper's acceptance that a mistake had been made.


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