OK! breached PCC code by identifying AA attendee

OK! magazine has breached the privacy clause of the Editors’ Code of Practice when it identifyed an Alcoholics Anonymous attendee, the Press Complaints Commission has found.

The PCC found the Northern & Shell celebrity weekly in breach of its Code of Practice after it published a story and picture which identified a woman as an AA attendee.

The ruling followed a complaint by the woman about an article which concerned a male celebrity and mentioned that he and a friend – the complainant – were ‘spotted at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting’with an accompanying photograph and caption of the pair.

The complainant argued that the article disclosed her addiction and treatment – which had never previously revealed in the media – and that the photograph taken outside the meeting was intrusive. A solicitor’s letter on the issue was ignored by OK!.

The PCC said there was no merit in OK!’s argument that readers might think the complainant was at the AA meeting only to provide moral support to the male celebrity friend its article was about.

The PCC said the article, photograph and caption were intrusive since the complainant’s treatment was not public nor was there any public interest reason to publish without her consent.

It said that OK! did not know whether the complainant had been at the AA meeting for treatment herself, and ‘took no care in its presentation of the material to avoid a possible intrusion into her privacy”.

It added: ‘This was reckless in the circumstances, as shown by the subsequent revelation that she had indeed been at the clinic for treatment. It was also regrettable that the magazine had not engaged with the complainant’s solicitor when a complaint was made directly to the publication.”

OK! has apologised to the complainant and undertaken not to republish the material.

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