PCC: MK News in serious breach of code over death of girl

The Press Complaints Commission has ruled that the MK News was in serious breach of the Editors' Code of Conduct for an "inaccurate and intrusive" report over the death the complainants' daughter.

In November 2006 an article in the paper reported that thirteen-year-old Deanne Asamoah had committed suicide after finding out her mother was suffering from a medical condition.

The two complainants, Mr and Mrs Addai-Twumasi, argued the News had breached clause one of the code (accuracy) as there had been no evidence that Asamoah had killed herself or that her mother's illness could have been a contributory factor.

They also believed the paper had breached her privacy (clause 3) by reporting on the mother's illness.

The paper said it had discovered the story two hours before deadline after it learned general details in a school newsletter and they said that two separate reliable sources confirmed the story and the relevance of the mother's illness.

The PCC said it was in the public interest to report on the death of such a young person.

It noted that the newspaper did distinguish fact and speculation and, after the family contacted the News, it printed follow up articles on the inquest.

The commission said that without the mother's consent to report on her illness her privacy was breached and this was compounded by speculation in the paper about the reasons of the death.

The parents' plea for an apology was rejected by the editor, to the regret of the PCC.

The commission said "this was an obvious, and unacceptable, breach of the Code that should have been swiftly remedied," and added that it did not hesitate in upholding the complaint.


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