'Gangster' loses PCC battle against the Record

The Press Complaints Commission has rejected a complaint made against the Daily Record by a man it described as a gangster.

Carolyn Cunningham and Paul John Ferris complained to the PCC over two stories from September headlined ‘Child No. 3 for Ferris’and ‘Baby girl for Ferris”.

They claimed that the articles breached four sections of the code: accuracy (clause one), privacy (clause three), children (clause six) and harassment (clause four).

The articles reported the birth of the complainants’ daughter, identified her by name, and quoted an ‘underworld source’saying that Ferris (described by the Record as a ‘gangster”) wanted to keep the birth secret to protect his family from revenge attacks.

Ferris and Cunningham told the PCC they had not sought to keep the birth secret, and were confident that the quoted source – and therefore the threat of reprisals – did not exist.

They said their daughter’s identity had been ‘stolen”, and complained that her whereabouts had been made public.

The two complainants said their parents had been alarmed by approaches from reporters, and complained that journalists had remained outside Cunningham’s former home for three days and had sought information about her son.

According the PCC, the Record has apologised for failing to contact the two complainants prior to publication and offered them the opportunity to respond to the article in a published letter or follow-up piece.

Rejecting the complaint, the PCC said that the offer of a letter or further article would was sufficient response in terms of the newspaper’s obligations under the code.

On the issue of privacy and identifying the child, the Record said: ‘The information about the child – her name, the fact she had been born, and the county in which she lived – was superficial, and, in relation to her name and birth, a matter of public record by virtue of their inclusion on her birth certificate.

‘Stating the vague whereabouts of the family home was not intrusive into the family’s home life in breach of clause three. In any case, in light of the child’s age, the impact on her of publication would have been negligible.”

On the issue of harassment, the PCC said that it saw no evidence that journalists had continued questioning or pursuing anyone having been asked to desist.

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