The Press Complaints Commission has upheld a complaint against the Loughborough Echo after a sub-editing error led to a member of the public receiving crank phone calls.
A reporter filed a story, about a local couple whose house was damaged by builders, including their mobile number several carriages below the main body of text.
The reporter was due to go on holiday, and left the number in case anyone from the paper wanted to contact the couple in his absence.
But the number was included in the story’s final paragraph, causing the couple to receive ‘numerous crank calls”, according to the PCC‘s report.
The adjudication read: ‘This was a case where the newspaper had made an obvious and unfortunate error.
‘The publication of the man’s mobile telephone number, which was not accessible to the public, without consent was undoubtedly intrusive.
‘The commission welcomed the fact that the editor had sought to respond quickly to the complaint, and had apologised unreservedly.
‘This was the right thing to do in the circumstances. There was however a breach of the code and the complaint was upheld.”
However, a more general complaint – that the story was intrusive – was dismissed.
The couple said they had not consented to the story – but the newspaper said it had been approached by a local councillor, and added the complainants had never indicated they wished anonymity.
The adjudication said: “There was a dispute between the newspaper and complainants about what had been agreed in advance of publication, but the commission noted the story was about problems apparently caused by a building developer, and had appeared following an approach by the local councillor to talk about the matter and the council’s attempts to sort it out.
“In these circumstances, the information was not private, and publication of the piece (other than the phone number) was not intrusive in breach of the code.”