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September 30, 2004

PCC Rejects Privacy Complaint

Category: News

Tabloid Revelations about actor Grantham not in breach of code


The Press Complaints Commission has rejected a privacy complaint from Eastenders’ actor, Leslie Grantham, over tabloid allegations that the BBC had ordered him to seek treatment for sexual problems.


The actor, who plays “Dirty Den” in the popular BBC soap, complained that articles appearing in the Daily Star, The Sun, the Daily Record, the Daily Mirror and the Sunday Mirror in May 2004 were a breach of Article 3 of the PCC Code.


Mr Grantham claimed that the articles – ‘Den told: Get Shrink or get the sack’ (6 May 2004); ‘Den to see sex shrink’ (15 May 2004); ‘BBC send Den to sex clinic’ (15 May 2004); ‘Dirty Den’s telly ban’ (15 May 2004); ‘Den has his hard drive taken away’ (16 May 2004) – intruded into his private life by reporting that he had a specific medical condition in the form of an addiction for which he was undergoing, or was to undergo, treatment. In submissions, Grantham’s solicitors, The Simpkins Partnership, placed reliance upon the House of Lords decision in the Naomi Campbell case.


In rejecting the complaint, the PCC found that, despite the Campbell decision, it had a “broad discretion … in deciding particular cases under the Code”. It rejected Grantham’s claim that the articles had suggested that he had some sort of medical condition. It found that they had suggested only that the BBC had been ordered by his bosses at the BBC to undergo treatment for a ‘sex addiction’.


In balancing the complainant’s privacy rights under Article 8 against the newspapers’ rights of freedom of expression under Article 10, the PCC ruled:


The information, which concerned a disciplinary hearing with the complainant’s employer, was in the Commission’s view less private than the complainant had suggested – and certainly far less so than material obtained from a medical record, for instance. Moreover, the events leading up to the hearing had been firmly established in the public domain without complaint. The newspapers had a right to report developments in the story, and the public had a right to be informed of them. Convincing reasons would have had to exist to interfere with these rights – and in the Commission’s view, they did not.


Links


PCC Rejects Grantham Privacy Complaint – The Guardian


Press Complaints Commission Adjudication