PCC logo with border It was claimed that the photograph was "extremely intrusive" and in breach of Clause 5 of the PCC's code Credit: PCC
The Northern Echo breached the editors' code of practice by publishing a photograph of a seriously injured glider crash victim receiving medical assistance, the Press Complaints Commission has ruled.

The paper published a story last July about a man whose glider crash-landed in a North Yorkshire field and who was trapped in the wreckage for an hour and a half while the emergency services attempted to locate him.

The pilot's wife complained to the PCC that the accompanying photograph of her injured husband was "extremely intrusive" and a breach of Clause 5 of the code. The man was not named in the article, but was clearly identifiable from the picture.

The Northern Echo said the photo had been supplied by the local search and rescue team, which had supplied media outlets with pictures from rescue sites for years.

It said that, before publication, it had made inquiries with the police and received a detailed account of the victim’s injuries, from which it had determined that they were serious but not life-threatening. The paper did not believe the picture to be gratuitous.

The PCC said in its ruling that it had "strong regard for the important role of newspapers in informing their readers about significant events in the public interest, and it acknowledged that the newspaper's pursuit of the story was legitimate".

However, it said it was "not persuaded that the publication of a revealing photograph of a person receiving medical treatment, published so soon after the accident without consent, could be said reasonably to be sensitive".

PCC director Stephen Abell said in a release: "Ultimately, whilst newspapers are entitled to report matters of relevance to readers, they need to ensure that publication is handled sensitively in line with the requirement of the code.

"The commission decided that in publishing a photograph of a man in a state of shock and upset, the newspaper fell short of this requirement on this occasion. It has upheld the complaint as a result."

The adjudication has been published on page 4 of the newspaper and also appears online.

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