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Brenda Leyland Ofcom Online

Ofcom receives 34 complaints over Sky News confrontation with online troll Brenda Leyland

By Angela Haggerty, Reporter

October 6, 2014 | 3 min read

Ofcom has received 34 complaints about Sky News’ coverage of alleged online troll Brenda Leyland, who was found dead shortly after being confronted for abusing the parents of missing child Madeleine McCann.

Brenda Leyland

Death: Brenda Leyland

The regulator said it was assessing the complaints and a decision on whether or not to open an investigation had not yet been made.

Leyland, 63, was accused of sending messages on Twitter to Kate and Gerry McCann calling them “evil” and warning they were “hated by millions”. Her messages were among a dossier or abusive tweets sent to the couple online.

When confronted by a Sky News camera team, Leyland said she was “entitled” to state her view. Following the broadcast of the interview on 2 October, Leyland disappeared from her home and her body was discovered in a hotel on 4 October. Police said there were no suspicious circumstances and it is widely speculated that suicide was the cause of death.

A spokesperson for Ofcom said: “Ofcom has received 34 complaints about Sky News’ coverage of Brenda Leyland.

“Ofcom is currently assessing these complaints. No decision has been made as to whether an investigation will be opened at this point.”

The latest controversy comes just as Ofcom criticised Sky News for causing “considerable offence” when presenter Colin Brazier was shown looking through an open suitcase in the aftermath of the MH17 plane disaster in Ukraine in July.

In its ruling, Ofcom said: “Mr Brazier handled two items belonging to a victim of the crash very briefly, and he appeared to almost immediately regret his actions and expressed this to viewers.

“Nonetheless in Ofcom’s view these actions were capable of causing considerable offence and this was no mitigated by an immediate broadcast apology.”

The regulator ruled the incident was a breach of rule 2.3 of the broadcasting code, which says broadcasting potentially offensive material must be justified.

Brenda Leyland Ofcom Online

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