A convicted killer’s bride who argued that a newspaper report of her marriage breached privacy and harassment clauses in the Editors' Code has had her complaints rejected by the Press Complaints Commission.
Victoria Deeney complained to the PCC following an article in Northern Ireland's Sunday Life in December, which reported her marriage to Jeffrey Deeney, who was convicted for the murder of eight people in the 1993 Greysteel Massacre.
The story told how a choir from Cookstown Primary School performed at the wedding, and staff and parents were shocked to discover later who the children had been singing for. It included a photo of the couple outside the church on their wedding day.
Mrs Deeney said Sunday Life had breached the privacy and harassment clauses of the Editors’ Code of Practice, and that naming her did not serve any public interest.
She said she believed she had reasonable expectation of privacy in church grounds and compared her case to a complaint made by Sir Paul McCarteney against Hello! in 1998, after the magazine published a photo of the singer and his children inside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
The Sunday Life reported this week that the PCC had dismissed all of Mrs Deeney’s complaints.
“The complainant had argued that there was no public interest in identifying her as a relative of a person convicted of a crime,” it said.
“However, the Commission noted that the article reported how a convicted murderer had celebrated his wedding day, including the concerns expressed by members of the community at a school choir’s involvement. Identifying his new wife was clearly ‘genuinely relevant’ to such a story as she had played a key role.”
The PCC also noted that the couple had been standing in the open, near the main road when the photo was taken.
Sunday Life editor Martin Breen welcomed the PCC’s decision, saying the case was an important one for press freedom: “There was a clear public interest in reporting Jeffrey Deeney’s wedding and the concerns expressed by the headmaster about the school choir’s participation in the wedding service
“We highlighted how a man who callously slaughtered eight innocent people was now enjoying his life while the relatives of his victims and survivors of that bloody Halloween night at the Rising Sun bar still live with the horror which Deeney and his gang brought to Greysteel.”