Editors’ Code of Practice Committee announces Editors’ Code of Practice to be revised

The Editors’ Code of Practice, under which the vast majority of Britain’s newspaper, magazine and news website journalists work, is to be revised to further strengthen protection for victims of sexual assault.

Clause 11 (Victims of sexual assault) has been expanded to make clear that it applies to newsgathering as well as publication. The revised clause will read:

11. Victims of sexual assault

The press must not identify or publish material likely to lead to the identification of a victim of sexual assault unless there is adequate justification and they are legally free to do so. Journalists are entitled to make enquiries but must take care and exercise discretion to avoid the unjustified disclosure of the identity of a victim of sexual assault”.

The change comes into effect on 1 July 2019.

The Editors’ Code of Practice Committee, which writes and revises the code of standards policed by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), is made up of editors and lay people. It took action after IPSO observed in two adjudications that Clause 11 was ambiguous and did not make clear if it applied to the process of newsgathering as well as publication. (Warwickshire Police v Daily Mail and Warwickshire Police v The Sun)

The Editors’ Code of Practice Committee chairman Neil Benson said: “When IPSO said the text of the existing clause appeared to be ambiguous, the Code Committee moved quickly to produce a revised version that makes clear that inadvertently disclosing the identity of a victim of a sexual assault without justification during newsgathering, even if nothing is published, is within the scope of Clause 11.

A revised edition of the Editors’ Codebook will also be published on 1 July and will include details of recent adjudications, suggestions for best practice and key points of IPSO guidance.

In his introduction to the revised edition Mr Benson says: “The most recent amendments to the Code and the Codebook will help journalists to have greater clarity about what is required of them and should give the public confidence that those of us whose role is to seek out information on their behalf are doing so in the right way.” To read the Committee’s press release in full, click here.