Page last updated at 14:32 GMT, Monday, 26 April 2010 15:32 UK

EastEnders 'broke' privacy rules says Ofcom

Sam Mitchell and Ricky Butcher
EastEnders showed text messages from the character Sam Mitchell (left)

An error which led to a private mobile phone number appearing on screen during an episode of EastEnders compromised privacy, Ofcom has ruled.

Lisa Edwards' number was briefly displayed above a text message received by Ricky Butcher from Sam Mitchell.

Mrs Edwards says she received 2,800 messages after the episode was aired in September, some of them abusive.

The BBC is uncertain how the number was shown on the prop phone but would ensure details were cleared in future.

Apology

It added it "very much regretted" that the soap opera's production team had failed to notice the number shown on Ricky's mobile was not one they could have sent messages from themselves.

It did not rule out the possibility that the prop phone was contacted by Mrs Edwards' mobile number in error.

They added that the large volume of messages received by Mrs Edwards could in part be explained by The Sun subsequently reporting the story and carrying a picture of Ricky's phone which showed the number.

The BBC apologised to Mrs Edwards both orally and in writing.

In the episode of EastEnders, Ricky's mobile phone was shown in close-up for four seconds to indicate that he had received text messages from Sam.

Above Sam's messages were two further messages and the number they were from - also Mrs Edward's business number - was also displayed

The media watchdog concluded that this had been an "unwarranted infringement" on her privacy as she "would not have expected" her number to be displayed on a primetime soap.

Ofcom added there was "no justification" for this information to be broadcast.



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