Complaint Upheld by the PCC Against Daily Record over 'Inadvertent' Publication of Distressing Pic

The Daily Record has had a complaint against it upheld by the Press Complaints Commission.

It follows – says the PCC – the publication of a photograph of a man who had died in a road traffic accident the day before – in the vehicle in which he had died.

Says the PCC: “The man's wife complained that the photograph was graphic (it clearly showed the man's injured face) and had caused severe shock and upset to her family. The newspaper apologised immediately and unreservedly to the family, explaining that it had not realised that the image had included the deceased man. It took a number of steps to attempt to remedy the situation: it issued new rules to its picture desk and production staff regarding the use of photographs with graphic content to ensure the error would not happen again; it published a page two apology (the wording of which was negotiated via the PCC and agreed with the family); and it offered to meet the complainant so that the editor could apologise in person.”

But it added: “The Commission found a clear breach of Clause 5 (Intrusion into grief or shock) of the Editors' Code of Practice. It ruled that the publication of such an explicit image so soon after the death did not meet the Code's requirement on handling publication sensitively. Although the Commission acknowledged that the publication of the photograph was inadvertent, and that the newspaper's response had been “appropriate and responsible”, it ruled that the breach “was not capable of remedy”. It upheld the complaint as a result.”

A PCC statement quotes Charlotte Dewar, Head of Complaints and Pre-publication Services at the PCC, as saying: “Clause 5 of the Editors' Code is designed to protect people when they are at their most vulnerable. This case illustrated how a failure to ensure sensitive handling in the report of a recent death – however inadvertent – can cause serious pain to those involved. As the Commission recognised in its ruling, once this has happened it can be very difficult or even impossible to remedy the harm done.”

Read the full adjudication, here