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Friday, 19 October 2018

Guidelines needed on reporting domestic abuse killings, urges victims' relative

Written by Aine Fox

Official guidelines are needed to encourage responsible media reporting of domestic abuse killings, the son of a man who shot dead his wife and daughter said.

Luke Hart said guidance, in the same vein as editorial rules on reporting suicide, would give victims dignity and a voice in death.

Mr Hart (pictured) made an emotional speech at the One Young World (OYW) summit this week, remembering his mother Claire, 50, and 19-year-old sister Charlotte.

The pair were murdered by Lance Hart in a leisure centre car park in Spalding in July 2016, with the killer, 57, then shooting himself dead.

Mr Hart, who has since become a campaigner alongside his brother Ryan, accepted that journalists can face a challenge in the immediate aftermath of such incidents, because domestic abuse has often been "so well hidden" during someone's lifetime.

But he said stories after a domestic abuse killing often seem empathetic to the murderer, and urged the media and others to "try as much as we can to understand the victims".

The 29-year-old told the Press Association: "One of the key things that we're working on at the moment is to try and get the media to report on domestic homicide in a more responsible way.

"So there are guidelines on how people report on suicide that the Samaritans put forward and we are kind of pushing hopefully an agenda where we can get some guidelines with regards to how domestic homicide is reported.

"To actually convey what are known academically and statistically to be the true causes, to give dignity to victims and I think that by changing the perspective from male to female we can start to understand the victims. We can start to give them a voice."

The BP technology associate, from Surrey, was announced this week as one of 10 young leaders working across the world for the OYW Young Leaders Against Sexual Violence group.

The group, launched at the annual OYW summit which is being held in The Hague this year, aims to address and combat sexual and gender-based human rights abuses, organisers said.

Campaign group Level Up has gathered more than 13,000 signatures urging the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) to create specific guidelines on reporting domestic violence deaths.

An Ipso spokeswoman said: "We welcome initiatives by groups concerned about the reporting of particular issues and look forward to meeting Level Up to discuss the important issues they have raised. "

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) One Young World / PA Wire.