PCC condemns News of the World for 'intrusive' story

An “intrusive” and “inaccurate” story published by the News of the World has been criticised by the Press Complaints Commission.

The regulator has held up a complaint brought by Elizabeth Noble about a story headlined “With all thy worldly goods I me endow”. The article was about a conman who admitted in court to defrauding women of cash, one of whom was the complainant.

It attributed comments to Noble that she said she did not make and published a picture belonging to her without permission. She complained under clause 1 (accuracy), clause 2 (privacy) and clause 11 (misrepresentation) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

The NoW said the comments and photograph had been made available for use through a friend of Noble who was also a victim. Noble said she had not provided the comments and had only sent her fellow victim a photo in an e-mail, not intended for publication.

The PCC acknowledged the paper’s claim that it had accepted material for the story from a freelance journalist in good faith. However, it stated that editors and publishers must ensure the code is observed not only by their staff but other contributors.

The commission noted that after three months of investigation no evidence had been provided by the NoW to show that Noble had made the comments attributed to her.

On the misrepresentation issue the PCC judgement said: “The commission noted that the journalist had described himself to the complainant as ‘a true life feature writer for women’s weekly magazines and… not a journalist’.”

The NoWoffered to write to Noble to apologise for the distress caused and the lengthy nature of the investigation.

By Dominic Ponsford

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