Begg and the Sunday Independent

Friday, 12th February 2010
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The Press Council has decided to uphold a complaint by Mrs Máire Begg about an article published in the Sunday Independent.

Mrs Begg complained that an article, published in the Sunday Independent of 8 November 2009, in which a picture of her home, together with details of the security arrangements relating to it and statements about its market value and mortgage status, was in breach of Principle 5 (Privacy) of the Code of Practice for Newspapers and Periodicals.

The Press Ombudsman, in light of the importance of the public interest versus the right to privacy argument in this case, referred the complaint to the Press Council of Ireland for decision.


It was the view of the Press Council that the public remarks of a prominent trade union leader in which reference was made to ‘trophy houses’ raised a matter of significant public interest bearing on the taxation of the better-off, including taxes on so-called trophy homes.

The Press Council recognised, however, that this matter had to be treated with due regard for a reasonable balance between the right of the public to know and of newspapers to inform them and the right of every person to privacy.

The Press Council decided that in this case the publication of a photograph of Mrs Begg’s home together with details of its location and a reference to the security arrangements applicable to it was not essential to achieving the purposes of the story, and did not add any public benefit proportionate to the level of intrusion on the right to privacy as set out in Principle 5 of the Code of Practice which requires that “the private and family life, home and correspondence of everyone must be respected”.

The Press Council therefore decided that the article breached Principle 5 of the Code of Practice and the complaint was upheld.

12 February 2010