Paper avoids PCC ruling over schoolgirl

The Scarborough Evening News has escaped formal adjudication by the Press Complaints Commission for approaching a 14-year-old girl for comment without her parents’ consent.

The teenager’s mother complained to the PCC that a reporter called her daughter on her mobile phone during school hours for information about an incident at the school involving two other pupils. It emerged that a trainee reporter made the call to the girl, who had previously been interviewed for a story about a road safety campaign. It was in breach of Clause 6 of the code, which says reporters should not interview anyone under 16 without parental permission.

Following apologies printed in the paper, given verbally, via email and in a letter, no further action was taken by the paper. The complainant wanted an assurance that Evening News staff would receive training in the editors’ code and that the paper would publish a summary of the complaint and its resolution. The Evening News said the complainant had focused on a "stupid, one-off, openly admitted error of judgement" and, although it would ensure the reporter would receive training, the mother’s requests were inappropriate. The PCC ruled the prompt admission and apology were a proportionate response.

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