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Stock photo By Justin Hall from Culver City, USA via Wikimedia Commons

The Sunday World invaded the privacy of a woman named June McKibbin by publishing a topless photo of her and calling her a “bimbo,” the UK Press Complaints Commission ruled.

McKibbin complained to the PCC about the June 16, 2013 Sunday World article, “Deadly duo…woman knows who killed my brother”, for using the “private” photo of her with the late Nuella Fitchie at a pool on vacation.  iMediaEthics was unable to find this article online or through Lexis/Nexis and Newsbank. The PCC’s Michael McManus told us the article and photo weren’t published online.

The PCC did not identify who the murder victim was, when he was murdered and who the sister was. iMediaEthics asked the PCC for more information about this but the PCC’s Charlotte Dewar told us: “We haven’t named the murder victim or his family because they were not involved in the complaint, and we would not want to cause them any unnecessary distress or intrusion.”

Fuella “was suspected of involvement in the crime,” the murder of McKibbin’s brother, the PCC explained. “The reason Ms McKibbin was in the story is that the victim’s family believe she has knowledge that might assist in bringing the murderer to justice,” the PCC told iMediaEthics by e-mail.

The Sunday World defended its publication by noting that years earlier the paper had published the photo, which it said it got from an anonymous source.  McKibbin responded that at the time of the first publication of the photo she was out of the country “and felt powerless to address the issue.”

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The PCC concluded that any public interest was outweighed by privacy issues.  “This was unquestionably a personal photograph, published without consent,” the PCC wrote. “While there was a potential public interest in the publication of a photograph that demonstrated the nature of the relationship between the complainant and Ms Fitchie, this did not extend to its publication in unpixelated form, which was likely to cause the complainant gratuitous embarrassment and upset – as it had done – and did not serve any legitimate aim.”

Sunday World claimed McKibbin’s “complaint was spurious” but did agree to not “re-use the portion of the image” of McKibbin.

Separately, the PCC dismissed McKibbin’s complaint that the paper inaccurately reported the sister of the victim’s comments that McKibbin “had information relevant” to her brother’s murder. The PCC decided that the statement was “distinguished within the article as the victim’s sister’s opinion.”

CORRECTION - January 21, 2014 11:48 AM

McKibbin is not the sister of the murder victim as the story earlier stated – “she was unrelated to the family,” the PCC tells us. We regret the error.

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