PCC clears Mail, Mirror, Sun and Telegraph over publication of Chris Huhne prison pictures

Photographs taken of former cabinet minister Chris Huhne while he was serving time in an open prison for perverting the course of justice did not breach the Editors’ Code, the Press Complaints Commission has ruled.

Huhne, and his partner Carina Trimingham, complained about the publication of pictures in the Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, The Daily Telegraph, The Sun and Sunday Mirror.

They showed Huhne, and Trimingham, in and around the grounds of HMP Leyhill where he was serving his sentence. Huhne was released in May after serving two months for persuading his wife to take speeding points on his behalf.

The pair argued that the photographs were taken in places “where they had a reasonable expectation of privacy” and so breached Clause 3 of the Editors’ Code of Practice (privacy).

They told the PCC that publication of the images was not justified by any public interest and only served to embarrass them.

The newspapers argued that the pictures were taken from public locations around the prison. The pair were said to have been standing in places where they were visible to other prisoners or visitors to the prison.

The PCC said in a statement that it "could not agree that the locations in which the complainants had been photographed were private places" and the commission noted that "Mr Huhne's trial, conviction and imprisonment, and the indirect but central role that his relationship with Ms Trimingham had played in the crime's coming to light, had been the subject of wide publicity".

It said: ”Neither the photographs nor the articles revealed any additional information about the complainants or their relationship which was intrinsically private".

PCC director of complaints and pre-punlication services Charlotte Dewar said: "Deciding whether an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy in a particular place can be difficult. The Commission carefully considered the circumstances in which these photographs were taken – including the background to the story – and concluded that, in this instance, the area in and around the grounds of HMP Leyhill where the photographs were taken was not private." 

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