Mirror Online and Bristol Post sent private letters of apology to a grieving family after they complained of graphic detail about their relative’s death in reports of a court hearing ahead of a murder trial.
Hate crime victim support agency Stand Against Racism and Inequality complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) on behalf of Kamaran Ahmad Ali and his family over articles that were published by both news outlets on 8 September this year.
The reports covered a hearing at Bristol Magistrates’ Court setting the date for a murder trial into the death of Kamil Ahmad and included detail that his family claimed had not been mentioned in court – namely that Ahmad had been found with his penis “cut off”.
The Post story was headlined: “Murder trial set after man had his penis cut off”. Mirror.co.uk said: “Man charged with murder after neighbour found dead ‘with his penis chopped off’.”
The complainant said the family had “not been aware of these details prior to publication of the article” and that their inclusion had intruded into the family’s private life and grief.
They also claimed publication had “not been handled sensitively” and that the articles had caused the family distress.
The complaint fell under Clause 2, covering privacy, and Clause 4, covering intrusion into grief or shock, under the Editor’s Code of Practice.
Neither publication accepted that there had been a breach of the code, saying the details had been referred to at a Magistrate’s court hearing, and that this information had been passed on “by a reliable contact at the court”.
They said that they “had a right and duty to report on these details, as they were heard in open court and because it concerned matters of public interest”.
During IPSO’s investigation into the matter, both publications offered to write a private letter of apology to the family. The complainant said this would resolve the matter to the family’s satisfaction.
As the complaint had been mediated, IPSO did not decide on whether there had been a breach of the code.