New code sets limits for editors

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Extracts from the code


Intrusions 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 (i) any private residence, together with its garden and outbuildings, but excluding any adjacent fields or parkland and the surrounding parts of the property within the unaided view of passers-by (ii) hotel bedrooms (but not other areas in a hotel) and (iii) those parts of a hospital or nursing home where patients are treated or accommodated.

Listening Devices

Unless justified by the public interest, journalists should not obtain or publish material obtained by using clandestine listening devices or by intercepting private telephone conversations.


(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 other means.

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.

Interviewing or photographing children

(i) Journalists should not normally interview or photograph children under the age of 16 on subjects 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 photographed at school without permission of the school authorities.

The Public interest

Clauses 4,5,7,8 and 9 create exceptions which may be covered by invoking the public interest. For the purpose of this code is most easily defined as:

(i) Detecting or exposing crime or serious misdemeanour.

(ii) Protecting public health and safety.

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

In any case raising issues beyond these three definitions, the Press Complaints Commission will require a full explanation by the editor demonstrating how the public interest was served.