Chester Leader censured by IPSO after revealing identity of child in court case

The Chester Leader has been censured by the Independent Press Standards Organisation for publication of a court report which identified a child in breach of reporting restrictions.

It has ordered the weekly newspaper to publish a critical adjudication on page two, the same place as the offending article. Previous press regulator, the Press Complaints Commission, did not tell newspapers where to publish adjudications.

A woman complained over an article published in the North Wales Newspapers title in October 2014 which she said intruded into her child’s privacy, in breach of Clause 3 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

The article was a court report about her partner’s conviction for charges relating to an incident in which the child’s safety had been placed at risk.

It named the man provided enough information to allow readers to identify the child, in breach of reporting restrictions.

The woman said that other parents had asked her about the incident in front of her child, causing “significant distress”.

The newspaper has apologised and offered to make a donation to charity.

It accepted that there had been a reporting restriction in place but said that it had been unaware of it.

IPSO said: “IPSO’s Complaints Committee noted that the article had not named the complainant’s child, but it had plainly identified the child by connection to the named man. In general, IPSO upholds the right to report matters heard in open court, both because of the general interest in open justice and because they have entered the public domain through the proceedings. In this instance, however, the existence of a reporting restriction meant that the complainant‘s child had a reasonable expectation that this material – which related to a distressing incident that raised significant safety concerns – would not be published to the wider public. 

In addition, as a consequence of the decision taken by the Court, the child’s identity was not likely to enter the public domain otherwise. The Leader’s publication of the material in these circumstances constituted an unjustified intrusion into the child’s private life, and a breach of Clause 3 of the Code. 

Read full adjudication here.

 

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