Clauses Noted: 3
Publication: Sunday Express
Mr Paul Burrell, Fundraising and Events Manager of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, complained that an article headlined Butler pays price of fame in The Express on Sunday, May 3rd 1998, made intrusive reference and speculation about his family life, in breach of Clause 3 (Privacy) of the Code of Practice. The article contained details of his living arrangements and stated that he would for the most part now be living separately from his wife and children. The complainant accepted that his role as Fundraising Manager unavoidably exposed him to increased media attention, but stressed that he had never sought to use his family as part of his job or expose them in any way to media scrutiny.
The newspaper considered the complainant to be a public figure. Thse who had contributed to the Memorial Fund were, they said, interested both in the use to which the money was put as well as the background of the Funds custodians. Details of the family arrangements were attributed to the complainant's sister-in-law and were not in dispute. The newspaper said that it was important that it should be free to write about the background of people who are responsible for public donations to charity.
The Commission accepted that the complainant had always sought to maintain a division between his public role - in which he rightly expected media scrutiny - and his family life. The newspaper article had ignored that dividing line, and had elided legitimate comment on his public, fundraising role with intrusive details about his family. As a result, his wife and children had been subjected to publicity they did not deserve. The Commission could not accept it as axiomatic that the family life of those involved in soliciting public donations to charities was a legitimate subject of newspaper scrutiny and intrusion. Indeed, the families of those involved in charity work have as much right to respect for their private lives as any other.
The complaint was upheld.
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