1535/2023 - Ms Virginia Guinan and the Sunday World

By admin
Monday, 3rd July 2023
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The Press Ombudsman has decided not to uphold a complaint from Ms Virginia Guinan against the Sunday World about an article it published in February 2023.  The article is headlined “Family agony of man who died in chicken attack”, with a subheading: “Victim’s little son was killed in tragic 1995 knife accident”. The main photograph is of the man, Jasper Kraus, while a smaller photo shows his son, Kevin.  Ms Guinan is Mr Kraus’s daughter.

The article opens with an account of evidence given at Mr Kraus’s inquest, as reported in a local newspaper, and goes on to include evidence from the 1997 inquest into the death of his son in what the coroner described as a “tragic accident”. The man’s death occurred in 2022.

Ms Guinan said the article breached Principle 5.3 of the Code of Practice.  Principle 5 covers privacy and Principle 5.3 requires the press to show sympathy and discretion in seeking information in situations of personal grief or shock, and to consider the feelings of grieving families when publishing such information.  It notes that this should not be taken to restrict the right to report judicial proceedings.  

Ms Guinan said the article showed “no respect for loss of my father or my brother”, that her brother’s death had nothing to do with her father’s, and that a photograph of her late brother should not have been used. She had been unaware of the existence of this photograph. She said she had agreed that only one newspaper “would share our story in my words”.

She said the publication of the story had led to people asking her if her father had killed her brother.  She said, “Someone’s feelings and sad history can’t be used to get readers without permission”. She said the article had caused her pain and the newspaper had shown no regard for her family’s feelings or health.  Ms Guinan said she had asked the newspaper for an apology.

The Sunday World denied any breach of the Code of Practice.  It said it sympathised with Ms Guinan and offered to help her in her wish to highlight issues related to her father’s death.  It said it believed Mr Kraus had provided the photograph of his son when he did an interview with the newspaper after the child’s death in 1995.  The interview and the photograph had been published at that time.  While stating that it did not have the original photograph, it offered to supply Ms Guinan with a copy.  

It said the article was not published “immediately proximate” to Mr Kraus’s death, the information in it was of a “public nature”, and nothing in the article could be taken to imply Mr Kraus might have been responsible for his son’s death.  It said Ms Guinan’s other plans for media coverage were not relevant to Principle 5.3 of the Code.


The Press Ombudsman finds that the Sunday World was entitled to publish material drawn from the inquest into Mr Kraus’s death, which had recently concluded.   The question of whether or not Principle 5.3 was breached then arises in relation to the publication of the photograph of his child and the part of the article given over to details of his death in 1995.  Mr Kraus had given an interview about the death of his infant son, and had supplied a photograph to the publication, which it then chose to re-use after his death 27 years later.  

The fact that the material used was in the public domain does not automatically entitle a publication to use it.  The question of editorial discretion arises in respect of whether or not the feelings of the grieving family were taken into account. 

The Press Ombudsman finds that there was no lack of sympathy in the way the report was written.   The Sunday World presented Mr Kraus’s death as the sad human-interest story of a man who died in an unusual and tragic incident having already in his life experienced a family tragedy with the loss of his infant son. There was no disrespect shown in the linking of the two deaths in this way, and no suggestion that Mr Kraus was responsible for his son’s death. 

The preamble to the Code of Practice refers to the right of a newspaper to publish what it considers to be news. In relation to privacy and in particular a grieving family, Principle 5.3 requires that in exercising this freedom it must take into account the family’s feelings.  This comes down to a matter of balance and in this instance the Press Ombudsman has decided that there has been no breach of Principle 5.3 of the Code.

7 June 2023