Decision of the Complaints Committee 00148-19 Jamelia v Mail Online
Summary of complaint
Summary of complaint
1. Jamelia complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Mail Online breached Clause 9 (Reporting of Crime in the following articles:
2. The articles reported that a man, referred to as the complainant’s stepbrother, had been convicted of murder. It reported that the defendant was allowed to be tried under a pseudonym, because there was a particularly large number of media articles about him because he was a close relation of the complainant. It also reported that his lawyers had argued that there was a “particularly large” number of media articles about him because he was a close relation of the complainant. Both articles included a photograph of the complainant.
3. The complainant said that the articles breached Clause 9. She said that she was estranged from the convicted man, and had no ongoing connection to him. She said that reporting this familial connection, which she said had not been reported accurately, had had a significantly damaging effect on her wellbeing and livelihood.
4. The complainant also said that although she had discussed her family previously, she had never mentioned the man who had now been convicted. She noted that there was historic coverage in the public domain which linked her to this individual, but said that she had not consented to this, and believed these articles were also unjustified.
5. The publication did not accept that it had breached the Code. It said that the complainant was genuinely relevant to story of the man’s conviction. It said that after the defendant was convicted, it was able to report that his legal counsel had successfully argued that his first name should not be used during proceedings. As reported in the article, the reason given for making this application was the large number of media reports about him “because he was a close relation of Jamelia”. Therefore, it argued, the complainant had been referred to during legal proceedings, and so she was genuinely relevant to the story.
6. The publication
also noted that the complainant had previously commented on her family’s
history, including their criminal convictions, including the defendant in this
case. It also said that the complainant herself had blogged about the
conviction the articles reported on.
Relevant Code Provisions
7. Clause 9 (Reporting of Crime)*
i) Relatives or friends of persons convicted or accused of crime should not generally be identified without their consent, unless they are genuinely relevant to the story.
Findings of the Committee
8. The Committee acknowledged the complainant’s position that she was estranged from the defendant in this case, and recognised that she had been distressed by the publication of the articles. However, Clause 9 does not restrict a newspaper’s ability to report on legal proceedings. The complainant had been named specifically in the defendant’s application for a reporting restriction. The reporting restriction referenced the fact that there was a large amount of material in the public domain which linked the complainant to the defendant. While the Committee noted that the complainant considered her identification in the previous coverage to also be unjustified, the newspaper was entitled to report on this. Where the complainant had been identified during legal proceedings, she was genuinely relevant to the story, and there was no breach of Clause 9.
9. The complaint was not upheld.
Remedial Action Required
Date complaint received: 07/01/2019
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 08/05/2019
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