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PCC rejects complaint about articles in The Scottish Sun on autistic schoolboy

By Hamish Mackay

December 28, 2011 | 2 min read

The Press Complaints Commission has rejected a complaint brought by Alex Neil, MSP, against The Scottish Sun.

Alex Neil MSP brought the complaint on behalf of a constituent who claimed that two articles published in the newspaper in September 2011 had intruded into her son's time at school and identified her child to the school and more widely.

In the PCC’s official adjudication, it explains that the articles reported that a former police officer had been hired by a school as a support worker for the complainant's autistic son, who it alleged was "out of control".

In not upholding the complaint, the PCC explained that Clause 6 of the Editors' Code states that "young people should be free to complete their time at school without unnecessary intrusion".

The PCC commented: “There were two overriding issues for the Commission to consider here: whether the references to the child intruded unnecessarily into his time at school; and whether there was a public interest in publishing the story.

“By referring only to the general area where [the school] was located, the newspaper had taken steps to prevent the child from being identified. While the articles had referred to a specialist unit, the Commission was not convinced that this was sufficient to lead to his general identification.”

The PCC decided that the newspaper had removed enough detail to limit the level of unnecessary intrusion to the boy's life, and also concluded that the newspaper was entitled to ask questions in the public interest, about balancing the rights of disruptive children to education, with the rights of other children and teachers.

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