PRIA condemns Mercer PR’s actions in releasing identity of Nauru sexual assault victim

PRIA logoThe Public Relations Institute of Australia has condemned the actions of a PR agency which released the identify of a sexual assault complainant on Nauru on behalf of its client the Nauruan government.

On Monday the Mercer PR distributed a release stating a police investigation had found insufficient evidence over serious allegations of a sexual assault made by a female Somali refugee who was previously detained in the Australian-run detention centre on Nauru.

“The release of personal information that causes harm or distress to any person is strictly in breach our Code of Ethics which binds our members to adherence of agreed standards of behaviour,” the statement from PR industry body PRIA read.

mercer PRHowever while PRIA has strongly condemned Mercer PR’s actions, they are not a member of the organisation and are therefore not bound by its Code of Ethics.

Mercer PR was unavailable for comment however Mercer did defend the release of the material to Guardian Australia, stating it had been distributed on behalf of the Nauru government.

The actions of the agency may constitute a breach of Australian privacy laws which state that disclosing personal details of a person without their consent could be a breach.

Guardian Australia raised this with Lyall Mercer to which he said: “I’m not going to talk about it. We represent the Nauru government. We simply represent the government. We do communications for them. I can’t answer any more.”

Crikey has reported Mercer, the principal of the Brisbane-based agency, has upped security setting on his PR agency’s online presence since the story broke on Monday, with his agency’s Twitter account @Mercer_PR now private and only able to be viewed by approved Twitter users.

Miranda Ward


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