PCC investigates newspaper reports of chainsaw death

The Press Complaints Commission has launched an investigation into nine national newspapers’ reporting of a man who killed himself with a chainsaw.

The commission confirmed it had received a complaint about reports about the death of 50-year-old David Phyall, who killed himself with a chainsaw at his home in Hampshire last year.

The nine newspapers being investigated are: The Sun, Daily Mirror, The Guardian, The Independent, Daily Star, The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Metro and The Daily Record.

One of the online articles, which was still visible on the newspaper’s website this week, provided a step-by-step account of the methods used by Phyall.

The PCC Editors’ Code of Practice states that newspapers must not include excessive detail when reporting suicide, in order to minimise the risk of copycat cases.

A PCC spokesman confirmed that the group had received a complaint and an investigation was in progress.

PCC director Tim Toulmin told a Polis debate at the London School of Economics last week that the commission was preparing to send a briefing note to journalists with further details on ‘best practice’on reporting suicide.

The issue has been the subject of much controversy following the press coverage of a spate of suicides in and around the Welsh town of Bridgend earlier this year.

The PCC has also begun its annual review of the Editors’ Code of Practice. It is inviting suggestions from the public and the industry until the end of January on potential revisions and how the system of press self-regulation can be improved.

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