PCC: 'Plymouth Herald right to report police raid'

The Herald in Plymouth has been cleared of breaching the Editors’ Code by naming a man arrested in a police raid.

Luke Dann complained to the Press Complaints Commission that an article published on 1 May headlined “Car boss arrested in police raid”, breached clause three of the Editors’ Code (privacy).

He said the newspaper had intruded into his privacy by naming him, identifying his home address (including publishing a photograph of it), and publishing his personalised car number plate – despite the fact that the police had not named him in connection with the incident.

The newspaper said that there was nothing private about the incident, which had involved 60 officers and had been witnessed by neighbours and members of the public.

The Press Complaints Commission said in a ruling today: “The commission has in the past warned editors to be careful about publishing images taken during police raids. But this generally concerns the use of photographs taken inside properties. In this case, no pictures of the interior had been published.

“While the complainant may not have been charged with any offence, it was not in dispute that he had been arrested following a prominent police raid on his premises. The commission does not consider that an arrest is a private matter, and reporting on police action is, in any case, inherently in the public interest and part of an open society unless there are formal reporting restrictions in place.

“In this case, the commission considered that the complainant’s local standing and apparently privileged lifestyle would inevitably give rise to an additional degree of scrutiny. References to his personalised number plate and house (which was the location of one of the raids), and publishing an innocuous photograph of the complainant – which merely showed his face – were not intrusive. They did not concern anything demonstrably private. Rather, they amounted to the sort of incidental reporting that is quite normal and acceptable in the coverage of such incidents.”

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