Courier-Mail fined for identifying family involved in custody battle for ‘commercial gain’

News Corp’s Queensland tabloid The Courier-Mail has been fined $120,000 for identifying a family involved in a court custody battle, breaking laws preventing media from identifying people in Family Court proceedings.

The newspaper had published a front-page picture of a mother and her four children involved in an international custody dispute and further identified them throughout the story, a Queensland District Court heard.

Judge Terrence Martin ruled the newspaper had deliberately and blatantly disregarded the law for commercial gain, ABC News reports.

The story about the four sisters who were living on the Sunshine Coast and went into hiding with a relative after they were ordered to return to their father in Italy had been widely reported in 2012, including coverage on Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes.

A News Corp Australia spokesman said: “The Courier-Mail has a long and proud history of reporting the issues that matter to Queenslanders, while complying with the many complex laws which can apply to media stories.

“In this complex case we published on the information available at the time and with the intention of reporting matters we considered important in the public interest. With the benefit of hindsight, however, we recognise the mistakes that we made and we fully accept the consequences. We sincerely regret the situation and apologise for any harm caused by the articles.

“Christopher Dore, who became editor in May last year, is committed to staff training and to ensuring The Courier-Mail complies with its obligations under the Family Law Act and the many other laws which can apply to our journalism. The Courier-Mail looks forward to continuing to faithfully serve the community into the future.”


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