Ofcom upholds Carr sister Calendar News complaint

Ofcom has upheld in part a privacy complaint by the sister of Maxine Carr against ITV Yorkshire's Calendar News.

Hayley Hodgson, whose sister was jailed for lying to protect Soham Murderer Ian Huntley, made the complaint against Calendar News after the programme filmed her and her family attending her mother's court hearing in July 2004.

The edition of Calendar News in question included an item reporting on the conviction and sentencing of Hodgson's mother, Shirley Capp, for intimidating a witness during the prosecution of Carr.

Hodgson was filmed entering and leaving the court with her husband and two young children. The basis of her complaint was that the family had been treated unfairly and that Calendar News had "unwarrantably infringed" their privacy and that of their two children.

Hodgson had asked Ofcom's Executive Fairness Group to undertake a review of the body's initial finding in October 2005 that the complaint should not be upheld.

She argued that it was unfair to show images of the family when threats had been made to the safety of defendants and other people associated with the Soham trial.

The Executive Fairness Group said: "The programme makers did not sufficiently consider the vulnerability of the children when they broadcast readily identifiable images of them without parental consent."

The body said the infringement of privacy was "unwarranted" because there was "no overriding public interest in disclosing the identity of the children".

ITV argued that the children were not the focus of the shot, but were included incidentally and that the Hodgsons did not even try to hide themselves or their children from the cameras.

The broadcaster also said that if there had been an intrusion of privacy, the inclusion of the shots of the family in the report (including the children) was in a manner proportionate to a court report and was warranted as forming part of a report on a matter of important public interest.

Ofcom did not uphold a second complaint from the Hodgsons of unfair treatment.

In its report, Ofcom said: "Mrs Hodgson's inclusion in the programme and the programme's presentation of the footage was fair. The item had simply explained that Mrs Hodgson was the daughter of Mrs Capp and that she and her family were at the court to see her mother sentenced."

The body also found that the report did not infringe the privacy of Mr and Mrs Hodgson and that their actions were sufficiently in the public domain to justify the programme's decision to broadcast the footage without the Hodgsons' consent.

The head of news at Calendar News, Will Venters, told Press Gazette: "We are disappointed that the fairness committee has now partially reversed Ofcom's original decision in respect of Mr and Mrs Hodgson's children who they had brought with them to the court hearing.

"As with all Ofcom decisions we will be taking this on board in future reporting and staff training."

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