Wednesday 30 September 2009

Leicester Mercury editor on naming the youths accused of tormenting Pilkington family

Leicester Mercury editor Keith Perch has posted on his blog on why the paper named the youths accused of tormenting Fiona Pilkington who killed her daughter and then herself.
Perch writes: "As a rule, the Mercury, in line with the Press Complaints Commission's code of conduct, does not name children under the age of 16 involved in crime. ..The issue here was that there was no court case, but two boys and their older brother were named in national newspapers - one of them branded 'Street Rat' on the front page of the Sun. A local councillor was also raising a petition to have the family evicted.
"You may be surprised to hear that our first reaction was not to name the family and particularly the two younger boys. But after some discussion we decided to do the opposite - to name the boys and use their photographs.
"What was behind the decision?Primarily, it was because any pretence that these boys had anonymity was ridiculous. Everybody in the area knew the identity of the boys even before the national papers got involved. It was clear from our discussions with neighbours that they were well-known in the area and their links to the Pilkington case were common knowledge - not naming them would have made our article look very odd and would not have 'protected' the boys in any way."
Perch also discusses how the Mercury reported stories from three other families who claimed to have suffered harassment.

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