ITV regional news programme Meridian Tonight has been reprimanded by Ofcom after breaking an agreement to keep the identity of an assault victim secret.
The woman complained to Ofcom after a news bulletin showed a picture of her and referred to the town where she lived. The regulator upheld that the programme had been unfair and infringed on her privacy.
The woman, known as Ms B, took part in a news item on 16 February relating to a violent assault on her, with the condition that her face would be obscured. However, during the item’s introduction, the programme mistakenly showed her photograph and named the town where she lived.
The bulletin also inaccurately described Ms B’s attacker – an escaped mental patient – as a former boyfriend, which Ofcom found to be “insensitive and unfair”. It said there was no evidence that Ms B had had a relationship with the man to justify describing him as a former boyfriend.
Meridian Tonight accepted it had “inadvertently” broken its agreement with Ms B and apologised unreservedly.
In its defence, the broadcaster said the programme director, who was under the pressure of a very late edit, was unaware of the promise not to identify Ms B and had included a library picture of her taken at the time of the original trial.
Meridian said it had revised its procedures to prevent such an error from recurring.
By Wale Azeez