Pick Me Up magazine has been censured by the Press Complaints Commission for paying an ‘associate’of a convicted criminal for a story.
The complaint related to a first-person account of a woman who slept with a man on the night he murdered another woman.
The daughter of the victim complained to the PCC, alleging that Pick Me Up had breached clause 16 of the Editors’ Code t – payment to criminals – by paying for the story because the woman was ‘an associate of a convicted criminal”.
The complainant alleged there ‘was no purpose to the story other than financial gain to both the woman and the magazine at the expense of her mother’s death”.
Pick Me Up disputed the claim and denied the woman was an associate of the murderer ‘but rather a passing acquaintance”.
The victim argued they were more than just acquaintances because they shared the same friends.
Clause 16 of the code prohibits payments to ‘convicted or confessed criminals or to their associates – who may include family, friends and colleagues” for stories which “seek to exploit a particular crime”.
A statement released by the PCC today said: ‘The commission ruled the sexual relationship between the murderer and the woman he slept with meant that the woman could reasonably be described as an ‘associate’, while the fact that the focus of the article was entirely on the woman’s association with the murderer meant that the story exploited the crime.
‘Although the woman had been entitled to tell her story to the magazine, the payment for it could not be justified. The complaint was therefore upheld.”
PCC director Stephen Abell said: ‘Complaints under Clause 16 of the Editors’ Code are relatively rare, so it is important that editors take note of this important ruling.
‘The code is rightly very strict in this area and – while freedom of expression does mean that newspapers and magazines can publish individuals’ stories regardless of their involvement or association with crimes – the code is very clear that payment must not be made to criminals or their associates for stories or information that exploit a particular crime, unless there is a public interest in doing so.
‘This decision is a reminder to the industry to treat stories of this sort with particular care.”