PCC rules Independent wrong to reveal actress was pregnant

Journalists have been urged to exercise "common sense" when writing about pregnancy after The Independent reported that an actress was expecting a baby before she had even told her family.

The paper was criticised this week by the Press Complaints Commission for the story.

The actress concerned, Joanna Riding, later suffered a miscarriage.

Riding complained to the PCC over an article in the Pandora diary column on 8 March, which she said intruded into her privacy in breach of clause three of the Editors' Code.

The column, then edited by Guy Adams, reported that Riding had withdrawn from a theatre role because she was pregnant.

Riding said that at the time the only people informed of her pregnancy were her agent and the producer of the show.

The newspaper responded to Riding's initial complaint by offering to publish a letter from her and removing the story from its website.

After the PCC became involved, the paper offered to publish an apology, but Riding rejected this, preferring to wait for an adjudication.

In its ruling, the PCC said: "As a matter of common sense, newspapers and magazines should not reveal news of an individual's pregnancy without consent before the 12-week scan, unless the information is known to such an extent that it would be perverse not to refer to it.

"This is because of the possibility of complications or miscarriage — something that was sadly a feature in this case — and because it should be down to the individual when to share the news with her family and friends in the early phase of a pregnancy.

"Revealing the complainant's pregnancy at such a stage — before she had told her family, and when it was not obvious — was therefore a serious intrusion into her private life."

Riding also complained under clause one of the Editors' Code (accuracy), disputing that she had "resigned" from her role in a one-off show. She said she had not resigned, but been released on compassionate grounds.

Riding, who has appeared in BBC's Casualty, also said she had withdrawn from her previous role in Woman in White more than two months before rehearsals began, not at the "last minute".

The PCC agreed that these points warranted a correction by The Independent.

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