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Grenfell Tower fire: The Sun denies journalist 'impersonated victim's relative' to get interview

London’s Kings College Hospital says it has ‘formally written’ to the newspaper ‘and will be informing the Independent Press Standards Organisation’

Chantal da Silva
Friday 16 June 2017 16:12 BST
News UK has denied claims that a Sun reporter tried to pass off as a victim’s relative at King’s College hospital to get an interview
News UK has denied claims that a Sun reporter tried to pass off as a victim’s relative at King’s College hospital to get an interview (Getty)

London’s King’s College Hospital has said it will lodge a formal complaint with the press watchdog after a journalist from The Sun allegedly impersonated a relative of a victim of the Grenfell Tower fire in an attempt to get an interview.

A spokesperson told The Independent they had “formally written to The Sun and will be informing the Independent Press Standards Organisation [Ipso].”

They added: “We are unable to comment on the specifics until our complaint has been investigated.”

The Sun reporter was reportedly trying to get an interview with patient Marcio Gomes, who lived on the 21st floor of the tower block.

He has been hailed a hero after reportedly racing back into the burning building to rescue his 12-year-old daughter.

Marcio Gomes has been called a hero for racing back into the burning building to find his eldest daughter

News UK, the parent company for The Sun, has refuted claims that the journalist tried to pretend they were a relative of Mr Gomes, stating that the allegations are “very factually incorrect”.

In a statement, the newspaper said it had already been “in contact with one of the people injured in the Grenfell fire, who provided a detailed phone interview for the newspaper.”

The paper says a reporter and photographer made hospital staff aware they were present and that they had been in touch with the victim.

“However we were informed the contact had changed his mind on the interview and The Sun promptly left the hospital. We refute any accusation that our employees acted inappropriately and we condemn the inaccurate and hyperbolic reporting that these accusations have provoked.”

Ipso director of external affairs Niall Duffy said the organisation has not yet received a complaint regarding the incident.

“We haven’t had any complaints on the case of impersonating a relative, which is, I believe one of the accusations,” he said.

If a complaint is filed, it will be investigated under clause 8 of the editors’ code of practice, which deals specifically with hospitals.

The code states: “Journalists must identify themselves and obtain permission from a responsible executive before entering non-public areas of hospitals or similar institutions to pursue inquiries.”

It adds that “the restrictions on intruding into privacy are particularly relevant to inquiries about individuals in hospitals or similar institutions”.

If the accusations are found to be true, “then we have a number of sanctions which can run from ordering them to print a correction right through to financial fines”, Mr Duffy said. He said the appropriate sanction, if any, would be determined after the investigation.

30 dead in Grenfell Tower blaze - what we know so far

The tower block fire has so far claimed at least 30 lives – and that number is expected to rise.

King’s College hospital says it is still treating seven patients injured in the fire.

“We have tried-and-tested protocols for major incidents such as this, which we ensure we have enough resources and capacity to deal with the patients we receive,” the hospital told The Independent.

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