Bus crash
Tributes near entrance to tunnel in which bus crashed in Switzerland (Reuters) Reuters

A lawyer representing the family of an 11-year-old boy killed in a Switzerland school bus crash has described the distress caused by the level of media intrusion they suffered.

Giles Crown spoke to the Leveson Inquiry as a representative of Edward and Ann Bowles, whose son Sebastian died on 13 March when a bus carrying pupils of St Lambertus School in Heverlee, Belgium, crashed in a tunnel near the Swiss town of Sierre during a ski trip to Switzerland.

The Bowles family had moved to Belgium from Crouch End, north London, in 2010. Sebastian was one of 22 children and six adults who died in the accident, one of the worst in Swiss history

Crown described how the couple were devastated by the intrusion they were subjected to in the immediate aftermath of the crash, criticising articles in the Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph that appeared the following day.

Crown, a media lawyer and family friend, also revealed that he contacted the Press Complaints Commission within four days of the crash to express the family's distress, only to be requested to draft a letter asking the papers to back off.

"I was calling [the PCC] to try and help, but a lot of damage had already been done," he said. "The main point to my mind is why clear code provisions hadn't been applied to bythe media."

Crown described how a representative of the Bowles family was contacted by the Sun, which informed him that it would be using a picture and quotes from a school blog that was set up to allow parents to communicate with their children during the trip.

Despite the family's appeal, a picture of Sebastian appeared on the front page.

Crown also explained how the couple were upset that a photograph, apparently taken on the private property of a hotel for the families of children who perished in the crash, was printed in the Mail and Telegraph.

The picture showed Sebastian's younger sister crying while being comforted by her father.

Crown said newspapers were competing with each other to get the best coverage of the tragedy and the excuse that no offence was intended and they were not aware of the true subject of the picture were insufficient.

Giles Crown
Giles Crown gives evidence to inquiry for Bowles family (Leveson) Leveson

"It was clear that this was a picture of a very young relative grieving," he said, claiming it should have been obvious that its publication was a breach of the PCC code.

"There's a certain degree of competition in the media to get the story and the photographs and this leads to a lack of consideration to the individual [victim] and as to whether they are doing the right thing.

"[The press think] if the photograph is available it gives them the right or a 'get out' when it comes to publishing."

He told the inquiry that Edward found newspapers had gained access to his Facebook pictures, which appeared in articles, causing him to close down his account.

"He told me he was absolutely certain that his account was visible to friends only," Crown added.