A Welsh editor, Thomas Sinclair of the Pembrokeshire Herald, was fined after he named a minor who was charged after he crashed a boat. The 17-year-old fishing captain fell asleep and crashed the boat, according to Hold the Front Page. The boat the teen was steering crashed into rocks and started sinking, the UK Mail reported. Those on the boat were rescued after he called a mayday.
The newspaper’s story included a footnote telling readers, “normally we wouldn’t name someone under the age of 18 but the subject has been widely reported in the national press,” the South Wales Evening Post reported.
In an e-mail to iMediaEthics, Sinclair said he knew the minor and that neither he nor his father had complained. “I was not aware that his case was heard in a Youth Court as it was a private prosecution by the Port Authority. If he was fined in a regular court his name could have been published, even if under 18,” he said, adding that the teen gave an interview to the paper.
Sinclair was found guilty Oct. 6 and he has to pay a £500 fine and £85 in court fees, according to Press Gazette. Sinclair had complained the case was “unfair” since he got the name from a prosecutors’ press release, and the prosecutors weren’t charged.
“You as the editor knew this defendant was a youth and at the very least you ought to have made proper enquiries,” the judge, District Judge Evans, said, according to Hold the Front Page. “This is a serious matter. This was a cavalier approach to reporting.”
That said, Sinclair stood by the publication of the minor’s name as in the public interest. “Although the publication of the defendant’s name was made in error, it remains my view that it was in the public interest that he should have been named,” Sinclair said, according to Press Gazette.
According to the Press Gazette, Sinclair “was charged with breaching Section 49 of the Children and Young Persons Act which bans the identification of anyone under 18 concerned in youth court proceedings.”
The Pembrokeshire Herald is a three-year-old newspaper.
UPDATE: 10/8/2016 7:20 PM EST