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Online newspaper article about my crime... Will it be (potentially) on the internet forever?


Online newspaper article about my crime... Will it be (potentially) on...

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Christopher Stacey
Christopher Stacey
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CJM,

You might find the guidance we have on our Information Hub helpful for you and your solicitor. As always, how this works in practice is what is important. So, do let us know how you get on.

Need Unlocks advice? Visit our self-help information site or contact our helpline
AJH
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Hi Leigh,

A perennial problem for many people with convictions is the 'google' factor.

If you were sentenced to less than 6 months in prison, or received some sort of probation or community order, it is possible that you conviction is now 'spent' under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
You can find out if your conviction is spent here: www.disclosurecalculator.org.uk

If your conviction is, indeed, spent then you could try contacting the newspaper and asking them to remove reference to it from their online archive as it has now been 'wiped out by law' - whilst this isn't technically accurate, for the purposes of 'reporting' it should have the desired effect. If they don't remove it, you could contact them again and state that you will consider continued publication of the conviction as 'malicious' and commence legal proceedings against the newspaper. Basically, newspapers tend to avoid reporting 'spent' convictions but this is only illegal if malice can be proven (very difficult in practice), but they probably won't want the hassle - particularly if they don't have a lot of money and can't afford the legal fees!

If your conviction isn't yet spent you may simply have to wait - or change your name? Or just not worry about it and accept that most people won't be 'googling' your particulars any time soon (behave!)

As for getting a correction - again it does require a costs/benefit analysis on your part. Newspapers almost NEVER get court reports correct! Is the offence which they claimed you were convicted of more serious than the assault? If so the report could be considered defamatory (i.e. you were convicted of assault but they claim you were convicted of attempted murder is defamatory because it makes out that you committed a much more serious offence). If it is something minor then I probably wouldn't bother - it's a lot of work for little reward.

P.S. I've deleted the other posting of this message to ensure that responses all occur in the same place. This is the best thread for such a question.

Post Edited (AndyH) : 28/11/2011 19:38:06 GMT


AJH
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Hmmm, honest answer is... I don't know.

Obviously the ROA 1974 was written and enacted pre- t'interwebz so it doesn't deal with online publication (actually it doesn't deal with press publication very well either but that's a different ball-game). I suspect that if you ask them to remove it on the basis that the conviction is now legally 'spent' they will do so (particularly if you say that you will assume any continued online publication of the conviction would be due to malice on the part of the newspaper). Malicious publication (VERY difficult to prove) is your only legal recourse, to my knowledge.

Anyone else got any bright ideas?

Post Edited By Moderator (Christopher Stacey) : 10/01/2012 09:34:32 GMT


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Hi Leigh,
Thanks for your message to the Administrator - as you will see below, Chris has been on and edited my post appropriately.
Best wishes,
Andy
Anonymous
Anonymous




It’s a long standing question this one and as far as I know you have no legal rights to have it removed.


There is no ‘continued publication’ of the conviction – it was mentioned at the time and just sort of stays there. The Article 8 ECHR ruling concerning a private life applies to government interference in life, (stems from the Nuremburg laws if I remember rightly), not news and there is no defamation of character as long as the article does not misstate facts. Changes to the ROA merely mean YOU don’t have to declare; it doesn’t mean it’s erased, or others can’t find out about it and/or tell others in a sort of ‘pass it on’ scenario.


News doesn’t just disappear as much as we’d like it to. It does fade in time; but as has been mentioned many times previously, if someone is not prepared to move or change their name, then it’s just something you have to live with. Life after a conviction is never going to be the same again; maybe better or worse, but what happened will never disappear. My apologies if this isn't what you want to hear.


Anonymous
Anonymous




I think it’s only the worst technology for those who got caught. At the end of the day no one else is complaining and as we are a tiny minority, nothing is ever going to happen. Removing news would also mean removing the good and that leads to censorship of what news is deemed suitable for people to see. It is what it is and news only gets an inclusion when we do something. Learning to live with it is part of the process; wishing it wouldn’t happen is, well . . . . . a wish.


I remember someone saying that a way around this is to include published comments in the same name and these then go to the top and the ‘bad’ news slowly slips down the pages. Although always there, not many people are going to continue searching after a few pages and perhaps that’s one way to regain anonymity? Wishing the government or google would do something is a pipe dream.   


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Just to note its easier to just change your last name and avoids looking so suspect, i.e. Marriage/Divorce etc

Also just to balance things out I use to have several news related articles online about good things I had done prior to my conviction, yet as soon as the same paper printed about my court appearance all the 'good' articles vanished! Clearly public interest only goes one way! :-/

I know that same paper has similar reports dating back almost a decade... I only hope one day the pictures get archived!


You only have to look at how media obsessed this and many other countries are, if its not celebs its Joe public!

Personally the lowest form of human existence is that of a newspaper photographer!
Leigh
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Hi,

I was convicted of assault 8 years ago, and details of my conviction were reported in a 'professional/trade' newspaper. I've just discovered this, and it was a bit of a shock to me ( a friend told me!) Whatsmore, this article can still be accessed on the internet today. Could someone please help me with a couple of questions?

- Is it completely at the discretion of the newspaper how long they keep the article in their online archive?
&
- There are some inaccuracies in the article, including it saying that I was convicted of something that I wasn't. Do I have any rights regarding this? Could I get them to remove the article? Or might they simply print a 'correction' in a new edition? Or ... ?

Please don't think that i'm trying to hide from my conviction. I'm not, and I have faced up to it. I just wish that every time someone Googled my name, this article didn't come up. Especially given the way in which it reports what happened, and the fact that there's some inaccuracies.

Many thanks in advance.

Anonymous
Anonymous



I have read the article and all the responses with great interest because I too have also been personally affected and am still being affected by this issue.
 
And before anybody gives me this advice, I am happy with my family name and don't want to change it by deed poll, and I cannot afford to move out of my local area either.
 
My local newspaper run a small article on me when I was convicted and this was re-produced on-line.
 
Although my petty crime has a few months left until it is spent, I am still worried that anybody with access to a computer and the internet could just type in my full name, and see details of my crime pop up on their computer screen.
And despite being spent, my name will be on-line for the foreseeable future. 
 
I thought this was really unfair, so I decided to send an e-mail to the newspaper and complain.
 
They read it, and sent a read me receipt, but I received no actual reply.
 
So I sent a proper letter.
 
No reply.
 
I then wrote to the editor directly, and sent my letter via recorded post. 
 
I received no reply.
 
I then wrote to the press complaints commission, and sent them the link to the on-line article, and a photocopy of the newspaper article. 
 
The press complaints commission, after 3 months got back to me and said that the newspaper had not broken any rules.
 
I then re-wrote to my local newspaper editor, and decided to complain again.
 
After 1 e-mail and 3 letters I finally received a reply, however the editors reply sadly contained almost word for word, all the information that is written on the PCC website apart that is for his final ending statement.
 
The reply was as follows but reproduced here in a condensed form :
 
All members of the press have a duty to maintain the highest professional standards. The Code, which includes this preamble and the public interest exceptions below, sets the benchmark for those ethical standards, protecting both the rights of the individual and the public's right to know. It is the cornerstone of the system of self-regulation to which the industry has made a binding commitment.
It is essential that an agreed code be honoured not only to the letter but in the full spirit. It should not be interpreted so narrowly as to compromise its commitment to respect the rights of the individual, nor so broadly that it constitutes an unnecessary interference with freedom of expression or prevents publication in the public interest.

There may be exceptions to any other clauses where they can be demonstrated to be in the public interest.

1. The public interest includes, but is not confined to:
i) Detecting or exposing crime or serious impropriety.
ii) Protecting public health and safety.
iii) Preventing the public from being misled by an action or statement of an individual or organisation.

2. There is a public interest in freedom of expression itself.

3. Whenever the public interest is invoked, the PCC will require editors to demonstrate fully that they reasonably believed that publication, or journalistic activity undertaken with a view to publication, would be in the public interest and how, and with whom, that was established at the time.
4. The PCC will consider the extent to which material is already in the public domain, or will become so.
5. In cases involving children under 16, editors must demonstrate an exceptional public interest to over-ride the normally paramount interest of the child.
 
Bearing all this in mind, and bringing into consideration the PCC editors codes of practice, I was told that there was " Public interest" in my crime, and that the newspaper has "freedom of expression", and this was "enshrined" in UK law.   
 
In the old days, todays newspaper was tomorrows fish and chip wrapper or even toilet paper :p but in this digital age, my name, street address and details of my crime and conviction, are laser etched onto the world wide web it now seems for eternity.
 
As long as we have freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and the press using powers that are enshrined in law, what chance have we all of changing the situation ?.
 
I am a normal bloke in a normal street trying to get on with my life, and I have certainly not got thousands of pounds to take a large multi million pound newspaper company to court.
 
I welcome ANY information back on ALL legal issues regarding this forum posting.
 
Mike   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


There are no mistakes in life, only lessons.

Post Edited (Spiritus) : 24/05/2013 18:23:39 (GMT+1)


Hobbit
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This is heart breaking to read all the above.

While I do read the news and watch it time to time, I have always believed it is 100% illegal and criminally to post up a persons picture, there street and area of there residence and there crime. I was even more shocked to hear its the judges and police giving out the mug shots and story to the press and media !

No it is not helping ANYONE, in fact is causing hate and vigilante crime. It makes other people resort to becoming "criminals" also.

Its a breach of "rights to privacy" and human rights, the right to live peacefully and to be.

I have often wondered about all these media and paper and internet articles, they show the police officers and the judges and solicitors and prosecutors half the time.....
so this can work against them also, Criminals or others that may have been effected ie financial loss could easily go after them.

This is not good at all for anyone, news is news I do not disagree but it should be handled different. Faces and names and details should be blocked peroid, if its good and happy news then its fine.

I can not give any direct advice really once your face and name appears on the press, it is however after some time yesterdays chip paper.... but sadly you are only a google click away, best advice is to change your full name and change your appearance. If you got the money or friends/family I would move far away from your current area, even the family should move on frankly. If you can retire else where in the world, that would be a good option or work abroad too. If money is an issue then you will have to beef up your house security...... small things, install door locks on your bathroom/kitchens so when you go to sleep or leave your house you can lock those doors. Use that child lock on the front door, install security camera system to see your outside of your house, and perhaps another camera to see who knocks on your front door. I would not even bother to be too friendly with neighbours or people in the area even.... I would even look at lamp post in case someone decides to post crap on you!

Perhaps its excessive, but no harm to cover your back..... course you do not need to do half the above but lately people do beef up there security a little at least !
GO


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