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  1. Media Law
September 12, 2014

PCC: Misleading Daily Telegraph article needlessly identified the wife of convicted paedophile

By Dominic Ponsford

The Daily Telegraph has become the last newspaper to be censured by the Press Complaints Commission after it needlessly identified the wife of a convicted paedophile.

It was found to breached Clause 9 of the Editors’s Code (reporting of crime) and Clause 1 (Accuracy).

The adjudication was published in full across the bottom of page two of the paper. The PCC has now closed and been replaced by the Independent Press Standards Organisation.

A woman complained that an article headlined "Facebook paedophile walks free from court", published on 14 May 2014, identified her as a relative of a person convicted of crime and was also misleading.

The article reported criticism of the woman’s husband following his conviction on eight charges of inciting children to engage in sexual activity and two charges of making indecent images of children. It stated that he was married to her, identified her by her full name and gave details of her age, profession, and education.

The woman said that she was irrelevant to the defendant's crime and, contrary to the article's implication, had been separated from him for over a year.

The Telegraph said that when it was initially contacted about the matter it had immediately amended the article, which it believed had been based on other press coverage, to remove her name and note the separation.

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Upholding her complaint the PCC said: “In this instance, while the defendant's marital status formed part of the circumstances of his crime, the complainant had played no direct role in the crimes.

“There was no suggestion that she had been named or referred to in the proceedings, or that she had attended court or otherwise elected to associate with the defendant. She had separated from him before his trial. The Commission concluded that she was not genuinely relevant in these circumstances, and the complaint under Clause 9 was upheld.”

On the issue of not making clear that the woman was no longer married to the convicted man, the PCC said: “While the Commission accepted that the newspaper had swiftly corrected the article when made aware of the position, no evidence had been provided to suggest that it had made inquiries on this issue before publication. This constituted a failure to take care over the accuracy of the article, and a breach of Clause 1."

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