PCC: The Sun Sunday confused role of EU in human rights ruling

The Press Complaints Commission has ruled that The Sun Sunday inaccurately reflected the role that the EU plays in passing human rights rulings.

An article, headlined “Inhuman Rights”, on a ruling by the Court of Appeal for England and Wales reported that the UK's system for the provision of CRB certificates was incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).

It quoted a victim of Ian Huntley raising concerns that the ruling could lead to a weakened CRB checks system resulting in children being in danger from serious offenders. The article also featured a comment from The Sun's Justice Campaigners, which echoed these concerns.

The article was complained about by Jacqueline Minor, a European Commission representative in the UK. In particular, she highlighted the story’s sub-headline, which said: "Now EU could let fiends like [Huntley] prey on your children".

This sub-headline, she said, inaccurately conflated the ECHR with the EU, wrongly suggesting that latter organisation was responsible for the decision.

The ECHR is an international agreement established by the Council of Europe (a separate entity from the European Union) which was ratified by the UK long before it joined the EU.

The Sun Sunday accepted that the sub-headline was inaccurate and offered to publish a correction and make staff aware of the issue. And the PCC accepted that this was a sufficient remedy.

Minor also complained about the paper’s suggestion that this ruling could weaken CRB checks and allow serious criminals to hide their convictions, but the PCC did not uphold this objection.

Charlotte Dewar, director of complaints  and pre-publication services, said: "The Editors' Code requires editors  to demonstrate that they have taken care not to publish inaccurate  information.

“The Commission strongly upholds the right of publications  to comment robustly on judicial decisions, but not in a manner that  misleads readers.

“It expects that the measures put in place by the  newspaper will now improve reporting in this area."

The Sun’s correction today said: “THE article “Inhuman rights” (Feb 10) correctly reported that a recent Court of Appeal ruling that the system of criminal record checks requiring individuals to declare all past convictions and cautions was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

“But we are happy to clarify that, contrary to the sub-headline “Now EU could let fiends like him prey on your children”, the European Union was not responsible for the decision.

“The Convention is separate from the EU, and the court’s decision did not concern EU law.”

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