Courier Mail didn’t breach Press Council rules with Greg Inglis story on Magic Round ‘disappearance’

The Courier Mail did not breach the Press Council’s guidelines when it reported on former NRL star Greg Inglis’ “lost weekend in Brisbane mansion for [the NRL’s] Magic Round” because the story was deemed to be in the public interest.

The newspaper wrote in May last year that Inglis spent the weekend in a “riverside mansion” with friends and a named former The Block contestant Suzi Taylor while his “frantic family, his girlfriend and South Sydney Rabbitohs ­officials tried to find him”.

Inglis was previously a star player for the South Sydney Rabbitohs

Publications must take reasonable steps so as not to intrude on someone’s “reasonable expectations of privacy” unless doing so is sufficiently in the public interest. In this case, the Press Council agreed with The Courier Mail that Inglis’ status as a high profile sports player and role model meant the reporting was in the public interest.

“Given the man apparently disappeared from Magic Round activities (a major public event) without warning or explanation, the Council considers that the man’s reasonable expectations of privacy were reduced and that there was a public interest in reporting the circumstances in which the man withdrew from these activities,” the decision read.

The story relied on a witness’ observations that “It seemed to me like he [Inglis] wanted to escape from the world for a few days and get away from whatever pressures he was feeling”, “He was drinking beer and sort of drifting in and out of consciousness” and “I tried to talk to him a couple of times and finally convinced him to have a shower and gave him some (fresh) clothes”.

In response to the reader complaint – which the Rabbitohs did not object to the Press Council investigating – the Council also considered whether the publishing material was gathered by deceptive or unfair means (and if it was, whether that was in the public interest).

The witness’ account, along with copies of text messages from Inglis’ family and friends, formed the basis of the reporting, and the Press Council said this information was “not satisfied that this information was gathered by deceptive or unfair means”.

The Council’s views aligned with that of The Courier Mail, which defended the complaint by pointing to Inglis’ status as a role model “engaged with the advancement of youth, Indigenous welfare and other social issues”. The publication added he had completed press duties on the Friday before he “went missing for the next three days”.

Inglis’ “decisions to rehabilitate from alcohol addiction and to treat his mental illness is an important story to tell and made the article squarely in the public interest,” the newspaper argued.


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