PCC: Telegraph did not harass police family

The Press Complaints Commission has rejected a claim that a Daily Telegraph harassed the family of a Police Community Support Officer.

Acting chief constable of Greater Manchester Police David Whatton complained under clause four of the Editors’ Code which prohibits media harassment.

The complaint followed the inquest in September, 2007, of ten-year-old Jordon Lyons who drowned in a pond. The inquest heard that two PCSOs arrived at the scene several minutes after Lyons disappeared in the water and did not attempt to rescue him.

Following the inquest, two reporters from The Daily Telegraph contacted the GMP press office ‘on numerous occasions’according to the PCC, requesting interviews. They were informed that no interviews would be given by the families or the PCSOs. Reporters also delivered letters to the PCSOs on 24 September asking for interviews.

In light of these and other approaches from journalists, GMP contacted the PCC on 28 September, the watchdog then circulated to the media their request not to approach the relevant parties.

On 5 October, a reporter from the Telegraph visited the home of the mother of one of the PCSOs and requested an interview following David Cameron’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference on 3 October in which he called the drowning incident ‘an extraordinary farce”.

The Telegraph told the PCC that when its reporter visited the PCSO’s mother they ‘apologised for disturbing the family and undertook not to return”.

Rejecting the complaint the PCC said: ‘By the 5th October the story had a renewed relevance, as a matter of political importance and comment, following David Cameron’s speech. This had clearly moved the story on to some degree, and the Commission did not consider that the newspaper’s approach, or the manner of it, was disproportionate to the development in the story.”

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