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Code of Practice of the Press Complaints Commission (UK)

The Press Complaints Commission are charged with enforcing the following Code of Practice which was framed by the newspaper and periodical industry and ratified by the Press Complaints Commission in June 1993.
All members of the press have a duty to maintain the highest professional and ethical standards, In doing so, they should have regard to the provisions of this Code of Practice and to safeguarding the public's right to know.

Editors are responsible for the action of journalists employed by their publications. They should satisfy themselves as far as possible that material accepted from non-staff members was obtained in accordance with this code.

While recognising that this involves a substantial element of self-restraint by editors and reporters;. it is designed to be acceptable in the context of a system of self-regulation. The code applies in the spirit as well as in the letter.

It is the responsibility of editors to cooperate as swiftly as possible in PCC enquiries.

Any publication which is criticised by the PCC under one of the following clauses is duty bound to print the adjudication which follows in full and with due prominence.


1. Accuracy.
i) Newspapers and periodicals shall take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted material.
ii) Whenever it is recognised that a significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distorted report has been published, it should be corrected promptly and with due prominence.

iii) An apology should be published whenever appropriate.

iv) A newspaper or periodical should always report fairly and accurately the outcome of an action for defamation to which it has been a party.


2. Opportunity to reply.
A fair opportunity to reply to inaccuracies should be given to individuals or organisations when reasonably called for.
3. Comment, conjecture and fact.
Newspapers, whilst free to be partisan, should distinguish clearly between comment,. conjecture and fact.
4. Privacy
Intrusion and enquiries into an individual's private life without his or her consent including the use of long-lens photography to take pictures of people on private property without their consent, are not generally acceptable and publication can only be justified when in the public interest.
Note -- Private property is defined as any private residence, together with its garden and outbuildings, but excluding any adjacent fields or parkland. In addition, hotel bedrooms(but not other areas in a hotel) and those parts of a hospital or nursing home where patients are treated or accommodated.

5. Listening devices
Unless justified by public interest, journalists should not obtain or publish material obtained by using clandestine listening devices or by intercepting private telephone[hone conversations.
6. Hospitals
i) Journalists or photographers making enquiries at hospitals or similar institutions should identify themselves to a responsible official and obtain permission before entering non-public areas.
ii) The restrictions on intruding into privacy are particularly relevant to enquiries about individuals in hospitals or similar institutions.

7. Misrepresentation
i) Journalists should not generally obtain or seek to obtain information or pictures through misrepresentation or subterfuge.
ii) Unless in the public interest, documents or photographs should be removed only with the express consent of the owner.

iii) Subterfuge can be justified only in the public interest and only when material cannot be obtained by any other means.

8. Harassment
i) Journalists should neither obtain nor seek to obtain information or pictures through intimidation or harassment.
ii) Unless their enquiries are in the public interest, journalists should not photograph individuals on private property without their consent, should not persist in telephoning or questioning individuals after being asked to desist, should not remain on their property after being asked to leave and should not follow them.

iii) It is the responsibility of editors to ensure that these requirements are carried out.

9. Payment for articles
Payment or offers of payment fore articles, pictures or information should not be made directly or through agents to witnesses or potential witnesses in current or criminal proceedings or to people engaged in crime too or their associates-- which includes family, friends, neighbours and colleagues -- except where the material concerned ought to be published in the public interest and the payment is necessary for this to be done.
10. Intrusions into grief or shock
In cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries should be carried out and approaches made with sympathy and discretion.
11. Innocent relatives and friends
Unless it is contrary to the public's right to know, the press should generally avoid identifying relatives or friends of persons convicted or accused of crime.
12. Interviewing or photographing children
i) Journalists should not normally interview or photograph children under the age of 16 on subject involving the personal welfare of the child, in the absence of or without the consent of a parent or other adult who is responsible for the children.
ii) Children should not be approached or photograph while at school without the permission of the school authorities.

13. Children in sex cases
1. The press should not, even where the law does not prohibit it, identify children under the age of 16 who are involved in cases concerning sexual offences, whether as victim or as witnesses or defendants.
2. In any press report or a case involving a sexual offence against a child --


i) The adult should be identified.
ii) The term "incest:, where applicable, should not be used.

iii) The offence should be described as "serious offences against young children", or similar appropriate wording.

iv) The child should not be identified.

v) Care should be taken that nothing in the report implies the relationship between the accused and the child.

14. Victims of crime
The press should not identify victims of sexual assault or publish material likely to contribute to such identification unless, by law, they are free to do so.
15. Discrimination
i) The press should avoid prejudicial or pejorative e reference to a person's race, colour, religion, sex or sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or handicap.
ii) It should avoid publishing details of a person's race, colour, religion, sex or sexual orientation, unless these are directly relevant to the story.

16. Financial journalism
i) Even where the law does not prohibit it, journalists should not use for their own profit, financial information they receive in advance of its general publication, nor should they pass such information to others.
ii) They should not write about shares or securities in whose performance they know that they or their close families have a significant financial interest, without declaring the interest to the editor or financial editor.

iii) They should not buy or sell, either directly or through nominees or agents, shares or securities about which they have written recently or about which they intend to write in the near future.

17. Confidential sources
Journalists have a moral obligation to protect confidential sources of information.
18. The public's interest
Clauses 4, 5, 7, 8 and 9 create exception which may be covered by evoking the public interest. For the purpose of this code that is most easily defined as:

i) Detecting or exposing crime or a serious misdemeanour.
ii) Protecting public health or safety.

iii) Preventing the public being misled by some statement or action of an individual or organisation.

In any cases raising issues beyond these three definitions the Press Complaints Commission will require a full explanation by the editor of the publication involved, seeking to demonstrate how the public interest was served.


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