1713/2023 – A Family and the Sunday World

By admin
Thursday, 11th April 2024
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Appeal to the Press Council

The Sunday World appealed the decision of the Press Ombudsman on the grounds that there was an error in the Press Ombudsman’s application of Principle 1 (Truth and Accuracy) and Principle 5 (Privacy) of the Code of Practice.

At its meeting on 3 April 2024 the Press Council considered the appeal on the grounds relied upon and on the information, documentation and submissions made by both parties to the appeal.

Appeal Decision

The Press Council decided to uphold the appeal on both grounds cited.

The Council upheld the appeal that the Press Ombudsman erred in her application of Principle 1 of the Code of Practice by applying too high a bar in requiring the publisher to demonstrate the authenticity of its confidential source or sources.  The Council recognised that the Code imposes an obligation to protect confidential sources. The Press Council found that there was no evidence that the newspaper did not strive for truth and accuracy, as required by Principle 1.

While acknowledging the obvious distress the article caused the Fleming family, the Council also upheld the appeal that the Press Ombudsman erred in her application of Principle 5 of the Code.  The Council decided that while it might have been courteous for the newspaper to contact the family in advance of publication of the article, there was no requirement on it to do so, and indeed that the privacy principle could have been interpreted as encouraging it not to. It took into consideration the public interest defence presented by the newspaper in its appeal. It concluded that the newspaper had therefore not breached Principle 5. 

View the Decision of the Press Ombudsman