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Last Updated: Monday, 26 March 2007, 13:32 GMT 14:32 UK
Kelly's Mirror complaint rejected
Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly
Ms Kelly complained to the PCC about the Mirror story
Cabinet minister Ruth Kelly has lost her complaint against the Daily Mirror over its coverage of her decision to educate her son privately.

The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) rejected her complaint that the story had breached her son's privacy.

The former education secretary decided to send him to a private school because of his learning difficulties.

The PCC said the Mirror had correctly balanced the public's right to know with the child's right to privacy.

In its ruling, the PCC said the issues raised in the article were "a matter of considerable public interest".

The fact that the complainant did not feel that the current state system could meet her child's requirements raised questions about the nature of publicly funded schooling
PCC ruling

"The fact that a Cabinet minister - who had previously been Secretary of State for Education and Skills - had elected to remove her child from the state system to be enrolled in a private school raised important issues for public debate," it said.

"Even if government policy included an acceptance of private schooling for those with special needs, the fact that the complainant did not feel that the current state system could meet her child's requirements raised questions about the nature of publicly funded schooling and its ability to cater for children with special needs - including those whose families would not be able to pay for private schooling."

'The right thing'

In a statement, Ms Kelly said she was "very disappointed" with the ruling and that her only intention had been to protect her son.

"I have always accepted the scrutiny, both personal and political, which comes with being a politician and minister," she said.

"But this case was not about me but about a nine-year-old child. I brought the complaint because I do not see why the protection that the code rightly gives to children in general should not extend to the children of politicians."

The story - that a Cabinet minister had sent their child to a private school - was first reported, without names, in the Mail on Sunday.

Ms Kelly, now the Communities Secretary, was named in the Mirror's story the next day, although her child was not.

She subsequently said she had removed her son from a state school after advice recommended he be placed in a school "able to meet his particular needs".

She added: "I, like any mother, want to do the right thing for my son."

Her three other children are educated at state schools. Her son will remain at the 15,000-a-year private school, but she said he would start at a state secondary school after a "couple of years".

The issue of private education has long been controversial within the Labour Party.

Mirror editor Richard Wallace argued that it was "right and proper" to identify her, as her actions "were clearly at odds with government policy".


SEE ALSO
Kelly joins Blair amid school row
09 Jan 07 |  UK Politics
Ruth Kelly statement: full text
08 Jan 07 |  UK Politics
Kelly reopens education wounds
08 Jan 07 |  UK Politics

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