Complaint upheld against Sutton & Epsom Advertiser

A mother’s complaint that a reporter from the Sutton & Epsom
Advertiser interviewed her 15-year-old son without her consent has been
upheld by the Press Complaints Commission.

The complainant said
there had been a fight between two gangs at her son’s college.
Subsequently, a reporter from the newspaper interviewed her 15 year old
son on the subject without her consent. An article appeared shortly
afterwards in which her son was named and quoted.

The newspaper
said the journalist understood that the college only taught students of
16 or over. The paper removed the article from its electronic library
system and its website. The editor also reminded all reporters about
the importance of abiding by the Code.

The PCC said: “This was a
clear breach of the Code resulting from the journalist’s assumption
that the complainant’s son was over the age of 16. More care should
have been taken in researching and publishing the story, particularly
given that the subject matter – gang violence at the college – had,
according to the article, left some pupils ‘too scared to give their
full names for fear of reprisal attacks’.

“While the Commission
was pleased that the editor had recognised the seriousness of the
matter and taken steps to ensure that the problem would not be
repeated, this was nonetheless a regrettable breach of the Code.”

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