Mail Online says sorry over 'human error' which led to publication of child sex assault victim's first name - Press Gazette

Mail Online says sorry over 'human error' which led to publication of child sex assault victim's first name

Mail Online has apologised after publishing the first name of a child sexual assault victim.

The move was potentially in breach of the Editors’ Code. But press regulator IPSO did not make a ruling because Mail Online apologised to the complainant and amended the article.

The article reported on the trial of a person charged with raping a child and revealed the child’s first name in a report of witness testimony.

The complainant said that the article contained an unnecessary amount of information and would have caused anxiety and distress.

Mail Online “offered its sincere apologies for the human error that led to the publication of the first name of the victim”.

Although it acknowledged the seriousness of the error, it said that publication of the first name alone did not necessarily identify the victim.

Clause 7 of the Editors’ Code covers children in sex cases.

It says: “The press must not, even if legally free to do so, identify children under 16 who are victims or witnesses in cases involving sex offences.

“In any press report of a case involving a sexual offence against a child –

“i) The child must not be identified.

“ii) The adult may be identified.

“iii) The word “incest” must not be used where a child victim might be identified.

“iv) Care must be taken that nothing in the report implies the relationship between the accused and the child.”

Clause 11 of the code covers victims of sexual assault.

It says: “The press must not identify victims of sexual assault or publish material likely to contribute to such identification unless there is adequate justification and they are legally free to do so.”

As well making a private apology to the family and amending the article Mail Online made a donation to charity. As the complaint was successfully mediated by IPSO, no ruling was made.



Press Gazette's must-read weekly newsletter featuring interviews, data, insight and investigations.

Author: Dominic Ponsford

Dominic Ponsford is the editor of Press Gazette