Headline and Sundayworld.com

By admin
Friday, 8th December 2023
Filed under:

Headline appealed the Press Ombudsman’s decision to the Press Council on the grounds that there had been an error in her application of the Principles of the Code of Practice.

Headline based its appeal on three grounds:

  • that the Press Ombudsman failed to recognise that other (named) publications had balanced the requirements of Principle 7 and Principle 10 of the Code of Practice;

  • that the Press Ombudsman incorrectly apportioned a higher value to one Principle of the Code over another;

  • that while the report was a matter of legitimate public interest, excessive detail of how the perpetrator killed himself was not, regardless of whether the suicide happened  in the context of a  murder-suicide or not.

The editor of Sundayworld.com responded that each of the three grounds represented a disagreement with the Press Ombudsman’s decision, and not errors in the application of the Code of Practice.

Press Council’s  Decision

The Press Council considered the appeal at its meeting on Wednesday, 4 October 2023.

It noted that the article was a fair and balanced report of an inquest conducted in the Coroner’s Court (and not a news story), and that the editor had the full right to publish it.  It also noted, however, that the Press Ombudsman had pointed out that upholding the Principles of the (voluntary) Code of Practice may on occasion lead editors to choose to qualify their right to report, in full, evidence heard during judicial proceedings.

The Press Council decided that coverage of the story by other publications was not relevant, and that the Press Ombudsman did not apportion a higher value to one Principle of the Code than another.  It therefore rejected both these grounds of appeal.

However, the Press Council upheld the appeal on the grounds that Principle 10 of the Code of Practice does not distinguish between different situations in which suicide may occur, and that the article did in fact contain excessive detail of the means of suicide, in breach of Principle 10. 

View the Decision of the Press Ombudsman