PCC rejects privacy complaints

Adjudications on complaints by Gail Sheridan and police officer published

The Press Complaints Commission has not upheld complaints made by Gail Sheridan, the wife of politician Tommy Sheridan, and by a police officer, that newspapers had invaded their privacy and thereby breached the Code of Practice.

Gail Sheridan complained that The Scottish Sun had published a photograph of her standing to the side of her house. She contended that she had a reasonable expectation of privacy but as she was visible to passers by – and as the photograph was innocuous – the Commission found no grounds to uphold the complaint.

Mr Bretherick, a police officer, complained that the County Times newspaper had improperly obtained and published a photograph of him, and also published his address. The officer had been charged with possessing indecent images of children. When reporting his arrest, the newspaper published his full address. Mr Bretherick said that this had adversely affected his parents, who also lived there. Later a journalist signed up to a live medieval roleplay website of which the officer was a member and obtained a photograph of him, which the newspaper also published.

The Commission rejected Mr Bretherick’s complaints under the privacy and subterfuge clauses of the code (3 and 10). It said that the newspaper was entitled to publish his address; the fact that his parents also lived there and were potentially vulnerable did not give him greater privacy rights. The journalist and newspaper’s actions in respect of the photograph were justified given the public interest in the story.