If you saw a fully-grown adult taking numerous photographs of someone else’s five-year-old daughter as she played on the beach, what would you do? Would you give them a disgusted glare? Would you confront them? Would you call the police and alert the parents of the child?
Now imagine that someone you know has bought these photographs. They pull them out at a dinner party and start showing them to you. They tell you that the little girl was “soaked to the skin” and that “her dress was clinging to her as she splashed about”. They show you one photo and explain that the girl “clutches her towel as she rubs herself down before wrapping it round her”.
What would you do in this scenario? Would you tell them that they needed help? Would you call the police? Would you invite them round for dinner again?
Well, the little girl is Suri Cruise – Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ daughter – and the friend is the anonymous Daily Mail Reporter:
The article includes no fewer than 15 photographs of Suri playing with her mother on the beach. The photos are accompanied by detailed information on what Suri was doing on the beach and on what she was wearing.
This is damn right creepy, but it’s certainly not new and there’s no reason to suspect that the Mail will stop publishing this kind of thing any time soon. A search of the Mail website returns 471 results, most of which are similar articles to the one from today.
In publishing these photographs, the Mail is clearly hoping to draw in as much rubbernecking traffic as possible – to hell with the moral implications of printing photos of a five-year-old girl playing with her mother on the beach.
The Editors’ Code of Practice, which all publications under the self-regulation of the Press Complaints Commission agree to adhere to, states that editors:
must not use the fame, notoriety or position of a parent or guardian as sole justification for publishing details of a child’s private life.
This code is drawn up by the Editors’ Code of Practice Committee, of which Paul Dacre, the editor of the Daily Mail, is the chairman.
Shouldn’t he, of all people, know better?
Here is what I sent to the PCC:
This article describes, in obsessive and worrying detail, the activities of a five-year-old girl playing on the beach with her mother. The article is also accompanied by no less than 15 photographs of the child.
I believe that this directly contravenes clause 6 (“Children”) of the Editors’ Code, which states that editors “must not use the fame, notoriety or position of a parent or guardian as sole justification for publishing details of a child’s private life”.
The Code notes that exceptions may apply to clause 6 (“Children”) if “an exceptional public interest” can be demonstrated “to over-ride the normally paramount interest of the child”. I do not believe there is any “exceptional public interest” in whether or not Suri Cruise wore a swimsuit at the beach.
My complaint will be rejected by the PCC as I am a third-party, but I couldn’t not submit it anyway.