PCC: subterfuge over Nazi shrine justifiable

Despite using subterfuge to take pictures of the Nazi shrine in a policewoman’s home, The Sunday Telegraph has been cleared of breaching the Editors’ Code of Practice.

Reporters Daniel Foggo and Fiona Govan admitted misrepresenting themselves to get into the house of Detective Constable Linda Daniels. But according to the Press Complaints Commission their actions were justifiable because the story was in the public interest.

Daniels complained to the PCC through her lawyers about a story with the headline, “Revealed: the race crimes detective who goes home to a Nazi shrine every night”.

The piece revealed that Daniels, whose job in the Metropolitan Police was to investigate racially motivated crimes, had a room filled with Nazi memorabilia.

She complained under Clause 11 of the code, which covers misrepresentation, and Clause 3, which deals with privacy. Daniels said the journalists had failed to properly identify themselves and had taken photographs of the interior of her home without permission.

Sunday Telegraph news editor Richard Ellis said: “If it’s not in the public interest to reveal that a detective whose job it is to investigate racist crimes has a home full of Nazi memorabilia, then what is? “The reporters did pose as writers researching a military book. We knew the detective’s husband was a member of the British National Party and an owner of Nazi memorabilia.

He had made it known to reporters previously that he would never speak to the press.

“We knew we couldn’t go along as journalists and expect to be invited in. The mother-in-law answered the door and did invite both our journalists in.”

In its judgement the PCC said: “The complainant… had specific responsibilities for investigating racially motivated crimes – the question of whether her job was compatible with living in a home containing Nazi memorabilia was a justifiable one to bring into the public domain.”

The ruling also stated: “It was reasonable for the newspaper to employ subterfuge as the only means of obtaining the relevant information about the complainant’s house.”

By Dominic Ponsford

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