Emap’s FHM has been rapped by the PCC for a ‘significant breach’of its Code of Practice after publishing a topless shot of a 14 year old girl.
The PCC upheld a complaint from the girl’s parents that a photograph in the April 2007 edition of FHM had been published without consent and intruded into their daughter’s privacy in breach of Clause 3 (Privacy) and Clause 6 (Children) of the Code of Practice.
FHM published a topless photograph of the girl in a gallery of mobile phone snapshots provided by the magazine’s readers.
The complainants’ solicitors said that the photograph was taken in 2005 when their daughter was 14 and was published without any form of consent.
FHM said it received approximately 1,200 photographs for publication each week from or on behalf of women posing topless or in lingerie. It said it was ‘extremely surprised’to learn the girl’s age in the photograph and ‘had no reason to believe that the image was taken without her consent”.
The photograph was submitted by the person with whom the girl was in a cohabiting relationship. FHM made no further enquiries beyond this but said it has since introduced new measures to ensure the situation would not happen again.
FHM also confirmed that the image will not appear again and offered to write a private letter of apology to the complainant.
The PCC, upholding the complaint, said that the topless photograph represented ‘a serious intrusion into her [the girl’s] private life’and was particularly concerned about ‘the impact on the girl in light of her youth”.
The PCC report said the magazine’s failure to respond quickly and appropriately added to what it called ‘a significant breach of the Code”.
It added: ‘The magazine had clearly not taken any sort of adequate care to establish the provenance of the photograph and whether it was right to publish it. It should have been much quicker to recognise the damage that publication would have caused the girl, and offered to publish an apology or take other steps to remedy the situation to the satisfaction of the complainant.”