It was wrong for the UK Telegraph to name the wife of a man convicted of child sexual crimes, the UK Press Complaints Commission ruled.
Given that the woman wasn’t related to the crime, it wasn’t right to identify her, especially since the newspaper didn’t tell readers that the woman was separated from her husband.
The Telegraph‘s May 14, 2014 article, “Facebook paedophile walks free from court,” reported on a man who used Facebook “to persuade girls as young as 12 to film themselves naked for him.” He was convicted but didn’t receive jail time. The man was ordered to undergo three years of rehabilitation, accept a “sexual offences protection order” and to be on the sex offender registry for five years.
The article named his wife, along with her “age, profession and education,” even though they weren’t together anymore and she wasn’t involved in the case, the PCC explained.
The woman complained that being linked to the man and the case “caused her extreme embarrassment and distress.” She “had been separated from [her husband] for over a year” and “had not been mentioned in court, and had played no part in the proceedings.”
The PCC agreed that woman didn’t need to be identified but the Telegraph still argued she was “relevant.”
The newspaper editors provided no evidence that they looked into the status of the couple’s relationship before identifying the wife, the PCC said.
The Telegraph article no longer names the woman but instead said the man “is married to an Oxford-educated lawyer but is now separated.”
There is no correction on the article, but the PCC said that the Telegraph apologized to the woman.
iMediaEthics has written to the Telegraph to ask how it delivered the apology.
The PCC ruling was one of the print media regulator’s last rulings before closing and being replaced last week by the Independent Press Standards Organisation. Read more about IPSO in our Sept. 8 report.
UPDATE: 9/18/2014 8:20 AM EST The Telegraph pointed iMediaEthics to the PCC ruling.