A Lincolnshire newspaper was found by press regulators to have intruded into the grief of the family of Lincoln graduate Carly Lovett, who did not realise that she had died in a terrorist attack in Tunisia.
The Lincolnshire Echo published a story on its website on June 26, 2015, headlined “Lincolnshire woman killed in Tunisia terror attack”, with the story reporting that Gainsborough woman Carly Lovett had died earlier that day in the attack.
As previously reported, the 24-year-old University of Lincoln graduate was killed along with 37 others when Seifiddine Rezgui Yacoubi opened fire in the beach resort of Port El Kantaoui on June 26.
Following publication, Lincolnshire Police complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) on behalf of Carly’s family, alleging that the Echo had breached Clause 5 (Intrusion into grief or shock) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.
An investigation by IPSO has upheld the complaint, ruling that the Echo breached the Editors’ Code and has ordered the website to publish its decision.
Police argued that reporting Carly’s death as fact before it had been confirmed to her family had caused upset at an already highly distressing time.
The Echo denied that it had breached the code, arguing that it had waited several hours to publish the information, until it had received confirmation from multiple sources that it considered to be reliable that Carly had died and that the family were aware.
The newspaper added that the attacks in Tunisia were of international importance, and that in such cases editors had a responsibility to keep the public informed.
It said that it could not have known that Carly’s family had retained some hope that she had survived the attack at the time of publication.
IPSO acknowledged that the Echo was entitled to report on the story but dismissed the claims by the newspaper’s confidential sources that the family had been informed of Carly’s death as “evidently inaccurate.”
The committee ruled: “Neither the death nor the family’s knowledge of it had been confirmed by any official source. As the newspaper had relied solely on confidential sources, it had been unable to show that it had taken appropriate care before it took the decision to publish to ensure that the family knew Ms Lovett had been killed.
“It had therefore failed to demonstrate to the committee that it had acted with the level of sensitivity required by the code.
“The publication of the information that Ms Lovett had died, so soon after the attack and before it had been confirmed to her immediate family, was a serious failure to handle publication sensitively and a breach of Clause 5.”