Alfie Patten case: East Sussex complains to press watchdog

East Sussex Council has written to the Press Complaints Commission to warn that the media storm surrounding Alfie Patten – a 13-year-old who recently fathered a child – could harm his welfare.

Patten entered the media spotlight when newspapers discovered that he and a 15-year-old girl had become parents on 9 February.

Formal complaint

Following a week of intense press and media coverage of the case, East Sussex’s director of children’s services, Matt Dunkley, lodged a formal complaint with the PCC on 17 February.

A council spokesperson said that the interests of the children and young people involved were “not being well-served”. He added: “We will continue to do our professional job of supporting these children and putting their interests first, and for that reason we will not be commenting on this issue further other than to say that we have referred the case to the PCC.”

The PCC is already in the middle of an inquiry into alleged payments made by the Sun newspaper and People magazine to Patten’s parents.

According to its code of practice, parents or guardians should not be paid for material involving a child’s welfare. However, this rule can be broken if there is a “demonstrable public interest”.
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