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IRIS 1995-1:8/20

France

Court of Appeal Decision on Journalistic Ethics

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Ad van Loon

European Audiovisual Observatory

The lesson to be learnt from this judgement is clear: the caution demanded of journalists means that they should not associate any individual with any event unless it can be proved that that person was actually involved. The Court accepted the claim for Right of Reply as made by the widow of Pierre Sergent. Mme Sergent submitted that the report on TF1 announcing the death of the mentor of the OAS constituted an affront to the honour and dignity of her late husband: the pictures and commentary linked the name of Pierre Sergent with the attempt carried out on the Paris - Strasbourg train in 1961, whereas the enquiry had not established with any certainty that the derailment was due to a terrorist attack.

References
Cour d'Appel de Versailles, Affaire Ns 237 du 18 mars 1994 Sergent et Le Lay contre TF1.
  Versailles Court of Appeal, Case Nr. 237 of 18 March 1994 Sergent and Le Lay v. TF1.