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Last Updated: Friday, 6 January 2006, 11:55 GMT
Suicide pictures spark complaints
Katherine Ward
Katherine Ward died after the fall from a London hotel
The Press Complaints Commission is to investigate whether newspapers breached its code by publishing photographs of a woman apparently committing suicide.

The PCC has received complaints against three papers, including one from a friend of Katherine Ward, 52, who died.

Charity Samaritans has also lodged a complaint about the images showing the solicitor falling four floors from a window in Kensington, west London.

The Sun, Evening Standard and the Times have not commented on the complaints.

The PCC said Miss Ward's friend had written to complain about the coverage in London newspaper the Standard and the Sun and it would be writing to those publications.

It was yet to deal with the concerns of Samaritans, which complained about coverage in the Times and Standard.

A spokeswoman for the Sun said it would issue a response if it was to receive a complaint but had not heard from the PCC.

The other newspapers did not immediately return calls from the BBC.

'Gratuitously distressing'

Samaritans chief executive David King said the coverage had been "gratuitously distressing".

It said the commission's code of practice clause relating to "intrusion into grief and shock" had been breached.

The clause states: "In cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries and approaches must be made with sympathy and discretion and publication handled sensitively."

Press coverage of a suicide should be discreet and sensitive

Samaritans also said its own media guidelines had been breached.

"With respect to news coverage, our guidelines state that press coverage or broadcast footage of a suicide should be discreet and sensitive," Mr King said.

He also said any coverage should avoid explicit details of method and "if possible, avoid the use of dramatic photographs or images related to the suicide".

He pointed out that neither the Times or the Standard offered any information on support or a helpline for people affected by the images.

While many programmes and articles have had a beneficial effect in highlighting suicide and the issues surrounding it in the past, "the Evening Standard and The Times are likely to have precisely the opposite effect", Samaritans said.

It said it was not happy with images of Ms Ward standing on the fourth floor parapet, "but take specific issue in this case against the photographs of Katherine actually falling to her death".

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