It was irrelevant for the UK Sun to publish a picture of and a story speculating on a relationship between a woman and footballer Adam Johnson, who is in prison for child sex crimes. The article broke guidelines for reporting on crime that state, “Relatives or friends of persons convicted or accused of crime should not generally be identified without their consent, unless they are genuinely relevant to the story”.
The Sun’s article reported that the woman, a friend of Johnson’s, visited him a few times in prison, and speculated on her relationship with him, even though she denied on the record any relationship. That woman complained anonymously to the press regulator about the reporting.
The Sun argued its article was fine because it thought her relationship to Johnson was relevant and not private information. The UK press regulator, the Independent Press Standards Organisation, threw that argument out.
“Conjecture on the existence of a possible relationship with a person convicted of crime is not enough to show relevance,” IPSO ruled. “The newspaper had not demonstrated that the complainant was genuinely relevant to a story which in part related to the crime for which Adam Johnson had been convicted.”
As a result, the Sun must publish the IPSO ruling on its website and in print.