Jan 272011
 January 27, 2011  Posted by  Misc, Non-U.S.

Here we go again: the rights of the public – and in this case, the parents of a murdered girl – are pitted against the privacy rights of a criminal – in this case, the convicted killer.

David Wynn reports:

The parents of murdered Kilmarnock woman Vikki McGrand have been left in the dark about her death – because releasing details would breach the rights of their daughter’s killer.

South Ayrshire Council says it cannot give specific information about monster Gavin Boyd as it would be illegal under data protection laws.

Mum Margaret, 47, this week told the Standard: “We can’t move on until we get answers, and we feel so let down by those who could give us them. We’ve lost all faith in the authorities. Why should the so-called rights of a murderer come before us?”

SAC was responsible for Boyd’s supervision after he was released in 2006 from a 10-year sentence handed down in 1999 for the assault and attempted rape of a 19-year-old girl. Prior to that attack, he had twice been released into the community from the state mental hospital at Carstairs.

By the time the 50-year-old had strangled and smothered former Bellfield Primary and Grange Academy pupil Vikki at her home in Ayr in August 2008, his supervision had dropped to just 14 hours a week – down from an initial 24 hours a day – and he received a weekly visit from a social worker. He also wore an electronic tag.

Read more in the Kilmarnock Standard.

As I read the news story, I wondered how any “right to be forgotten” might be applied if there was such a recognized right. Would the killer have had no public mention that could be found in any online search after he was released the first time? And would that be a good thing? If there were a “right to be forgotten,” should there be exceptions to it? The American view on this and the European view seems to be dramatically at odds, and I hope we have more discussion about this going forward as in some cases, the “right to be forgotten” would be desirable for many people who have done nothing wrong but just want to reclaim their privacy or reputation.

But to the case at hand:  I can certainly understand not releasing information for someone who has not been convicted, but once the individual is convicted, there is a legitimate issue of public concern – did the agency do its job properly? And to look at that, the public needs more transparency about the case.  If convicted killers give up or lose certain rights, should they also lose some measure of privacy about their histories or the details of their crime(s)?  What do you think?

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