Why we were wrong in our reporting of inquest, says editor of Telegraph
YESTERDAY, we got it wrong.
Our report of the death of Zoe Bird upset her family and for that I, as editor, am sorry.
I met Miss Bird's partner, Daniel Annable, in the Telegraph building yesterday morning.
He thought our front page coverage was unfeeling.
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For the seven years I have been at the paper I have been proud that we have been a part of the community, not apart from it.
We do not intentionally sensationalise stories just to sell newspapers.
Thus, I have to say I found my heart going out to Mr Annable and his family.
I can tell him the following:
I was wrong to sanction the use of a photograph of Miss Bird that had appeared in a death notice on our website.
From now on, we will obtain permission from families before publication of any photographs of deceased people.
I am sorry that he was not clear that the inquest report would appear in the paper.
During inquests the coroner and his deputies always tell the bereaved of the importance of the press in reporting such matters.
However, it appears that when Mr Annable was approached after the hearing by a reporter, it was not made clear that an article would definitely appear, as it does with all inquests.
On many occasions families are grateful for being given the chance to pay tribute to their kin. Of course, we accept if they do not wish to.
On reflection, my decision to place the story on the front page was wrong.
I did think the case was in the public interest because Miss Bird's death may have sparked others to have tests for potential heart disease and it would have made people realise that a tingling in the arm can be a forewarning of a heart attack.
However, we should have given greater understanding to Mr Annable's sensitivities and the article should have been carried less prominently.
In the future, I pledge that we shall listen more carefully to the concerns of families in inquest cases.
Let me reiterate, the decisions surrounding publication of this story were mine.
The reporter was merely doing their job and actually described covering the inquest as the most difficult task in their young career.
I am a father whose children are not much younger than Miss Bird when she died.
I am not in Mr Annable's position but can imagine what I would feel like in the event of something so dreadful happening to my son or daughter.
Thus, I am mortified that Mr Annable and Miss Bird's families and friends should be so distressed by our coverage. My heart goes out to them.
I understand that they are now raising funds for heart charities and, if they want our support, I can pledge that the Telegraph will be behind their efforts.
In the meantime, I reiterate my condolences and repeat that I am very sorry.