Nov 272009
 November 27, 2009  Non-U.S.

Dominic Ponsford of Press Gazette reports:

The Press Complaints Commission has rejected a complaint from Patricia Hewitt MP over an article in the Sun about her son Nicholas Birtles being charged with possession of cocaine.

She claimed that it breached her son’s privacy (clause three of the Editors’ Code) and that it unnecessarily referred to her and her husband in breach of clause nine (reporting of crime).

Hewitt said that while her son had committed a criminal offence and behaved very foolishly, publishing the story on the front page was disproportionate and had only happened because of the identity of his parents. She pointed out that her and her husband had never talked publicly about their children, specifically to avoid unwanted attention on them.

In related coverage, Chris Tryhorn of the Guardian reports:

The Press Complaints Commission has rejected a complaint from the former health secretary Patricia Hewitt over the Sun’s coverage of her son’s criminal charge for drugs possession.

Hewitt claimed the paper had breached the PCC code by invading her son’s privacy and referring unnecessarily to her and her husband, the judge William Birtles.

But the PCC backed the paper on both counts, arguing: “It is in the interests of society as a whole that the administration of criminal justice is as transparent as possible. The press is entitled to report such proceedings and naming him in connection with the charge was not itself an intrusion into privacy.”

The PCC’s adjudication can be found here (pdf). As of the time of this posting, the Sun has not issued any statement on the ruling.

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