Lancashire Telegraph gets fingers burnt over mortuary story

The PCC has upheld a complaint against the Lancashire Telegraph for failing to protect its sources.

Under clause 14 of the PCC Code:
“Journalists have a moral obligation to protect confidential sources of information.”

A mortuary worker had spoken to the paper’s reporter about plans to close a local mortuary. The paper ran a piece entitled “Burnley bodies may be sent to Blackburn” in which it referred to its source as “a worker at Burnley mortuary”. Problem was that there were only two workers there, one being his boss. The complainant subsequently lost his job.

In its defence the paper claimed that because it could have found out about the mortuary move from other sources, it didn’t consider the worker to be a confidential source as far as the PCC code was concerned.

The PCC disagreed and found the paper in breach.

What this case shows is that the confidentiality under clause 14 attaches to the source themselves and not to whether the information they have provided is confidential in that its not known to anyone else.

Full PCC adjudication: HERE

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