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February 23, 2016

Lancashire Evening Post censured by IPSO over agency reporter’s approach to family at inquest

By Dominic Ponsford

The Lancashire Evening Post has been censured by the Independent Press Standards Organisation over the actions of a news agency reporting on an inquest.

At the inquest of a woman, 26-year-old Carly Potts, the coroner made it known that the family had said they did want to be contacted by the press. Despite this, a news agency reporter spoke to the woman's grandmother and her quotes were included in the article.

IPSO said: "Reporters in attendance at the inquest into Ms Potts’ death had been informed by the coroner that members of the Potts family did not wish to comment on the case to newspapers. The newspaper’s agents were made aware through these means that the family would not welcome an approach for comment about Ms Potts, and were obliged to take this into account in deciding how to proceed with the sensitivity required by the Code.

"In the absence of any specific justification for persisting with inquiries despite the family’s desire not to be approached, the reporters’ approach to Ms Potts’ grandmother in these circumstances   represented a failure to make enquiries with sensitivity and discretion, and an intrusion into the family’s grief in breach of Clause 5."

Further complaints that the report included excessive details and intruded into the family's grief were rejected by IPSO. It said: "Both the print and online versions of the article had stated that Ms Potts had consumed alcohol and had taken three specific drugs in the hours preceding her death. However, there was no suggestion in the article that the substances had been consumed as part of the method of suicide. As such, the inclusion of these details did not represent a breach of Clause 5."

Read the IPSO adjudication in full here.

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