"IPSO complaint upheld: Inquest report

Following the publication online of an article in the Gravesend News Shopper on 4 December 2015 headlined “Gravesend father blames lack of help after depressed daughter found hanged in bedroom”, Naomi Taylor complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Gravesend News Shopper breached Clause 5 (Intrusion into grief or shock) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

The complaint was upheld by IPSO’s Complaints Committee and the Gravesend News Shopper was required to publish this adjudication.

The article was a report of the inquest into the death of the complainant’s daughter. It said that the complainant’s daughter had hanged herself, and included a description of her body which a witness had given during inquest proceedings.

The complainant said that the description was insensitive in breach of Clause 5.

The newspaper said that the publication of the description was necessary, as it illustrated the tragedy of Ms Fothergill’s death, and did not consider that it was insensitive to include it in the coverage.

The Committee noted that while the terms of Clause 5 protect the press’ right to report legal proceedings, such as inquests, they do require that publication is handled sensitively in cases involving personal grief or shock. The Committee found that the description included in the article was gratuitous; given the potential for such an emotive description to cause distress, its inclusion represented a failure to handle publication sensitively. The Committee upheld the complaint as a breach of Clause 5."

Original report:

A Gravesend woman who suffered from depression was found by her mother hanged from her bedroom curtain like a “plastic doll”, an inquest heard.

Kayley Fothergill, of Thorn Lane, was found dead on October 3, shortly after telling her stepbrother “I’m f***ed” following a drinking session.

Mum, Naomi Hunt, found her 29-year-old daughter dangling from the curtain by a scarf at around 2.10am.

It is thought she had been there since just before 8pm.

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Her stepfather Gary Hunt, who raised Miss Fothergill from the age of three, told the inquest held at Gravesend Old Town Hall: “She was a very sweet girl but lacked confidence in herself.

“She always felt she needed to drink to speak to people and feel confident.

“When you’re drunk you do things and say things you don’t mean - that one thought, was one too much.

“She was very low, but anyone of us could have had that.”

Miss Fothergill’s stepfather added: “What she needed was professional help - she couldn’t get it.

“In my opinion there have been so many errors.

“The doctors did not know how to deal with her, telling her ‘there’s help out there if she asks for it.’”

Months earlier Miss Fothergill was diagnosed with depression - she had been taking anti-depressants and had attempted to commit suicide on a previous occasion, the inquest heard.

Mr Hunt accused doctors of a lack of concern and understanding - he said his stepdaughter should have been sectioned for her own safety after she allegedly visited the doctors several times for help.

Detective Sergeant Richard Allingham, who investigated the case, told the court a neighbour had walked into the garden and, looking up at the window, said: “Look, there’s one of those plastic dolls hanging from the window.”

He concluded: “The body was found in non-suspicious circumstances.

“Her mental state was documented by her stepfather.

“There was a suggestion that she had been taking cocaine.

“She was a recreational drug user.

“There was no suicide note - she was found with a scarf wrapped around her neck - there was no obvious bruising.”

The inquest has been adjourned until next year.