PCC probes ‘baby-faced father’ story

Watchdog to investigate allegations of payments to teenage parents

The Press Complaints Commission is investigating allegations that two newspapers made payments to the parents of the 13-year-old father of a baby girl born last week.

The birth of the child to Alfie Patten and his 15 year-old girlfriend generated great media interest. Unusually, the press watchdog has of its own volition decided to investigate claims that The Sun and The People paid for the couple’s story, a practice that breaches the PCC’s Editors’ Code, unless it can be shown to be in the public interest.

Clause 6 (iv) of the Code states "Minors must not be paid for material involving children’s welfare, nor parents or guardians for material about their children or wards, unless it is clearly in the child’s interests".

The PCC director, Tim Toulmin clarified that while newspapers are allowed to breach this rule if there is a demonstrable public interest the Commission would be seeking to determine whether such an interest was sufficient “to trump the rights of the children – all three children, the baby and Alfie and Chantelle”.

The PCC are expected to make a public ruling on the matter within three weeks.

A spokesman for The Sun said: "We will be happy to fully co-operate with PCC’s inquiry into this story which we absolutely believe to be in the public interest." The People has so far made no comment.