News Shopper 'wrong to ridicule'

The Press Complaints Commission has told a weekly paper it will not tolerate complainants being held up to ridicule.

The commission said it was dismayed that the News Shopper had published a letter of complaint to the PCC without consent, as part of a subsequent story, while its investigation was under way. It also gave the name of the woman and her partial address.

She complained on behalf of her son that an article in October 2002 had used a photograph of him under the headline “Vandals, Yobs, Thugs”. She said it was misleading because, although her son had been found guilty of a crime relating to football hooliganism, this was unrelated to the paper’s “Shop A Yob” campaign.

The paper published her letter in an article headlined “We’re yobsmacked”. When she complained about that, the News Shopper argued a complaint from a criminal was a matter of public interest, even if it was made by his mother.

The PCC did not uphold the original complaint but upheld the second.

It did not accept there was any public interest in identifying the complainant, who was an innocent relative deserving of the Code of Practice protection.

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