· Decision of the Complaints Committee 00409-14 Romeo v Enfield Advertiser
Summary of complaint
1. Rachelle Romeo complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that an article published by the Enfield Advertiser on 10 September 2014, headlined “Residents hit the roof over temple”, was inaccurate, in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, intruded into her privacy in breach of Clause 3 (Privacy), was discriminatory in breach of Clause 12 (Discrimination), and included her name in breach of Clause 14 (Confidential sources).
2. The article reported concerns which local residents had raised about the building works being undertaken to construct a Hindu temple in Edmonton, London. The article included the complainant’s comments that the construction work was noisy and dusty, and also that visitors to the temple were placing heavy demand on parking spaces in the area. The article also contained a response from a project manager for the temple’s construction.
3. The complainant had approached the newspaper initially to ask whether it was willing to publish an article about her concerns. The newspaper expressed an interest in the story, and asked the complainant whether she would be willing to go on the record. The complainant responded: “That’s fine”, but went on to say that “prior to any publishing, can we sit down before I fully grant permission because I am very interested myself and would like to know what angle your article will cover”.
4. The complainant considered that the article was inaccurate because it did not fully represent her concerns, or those of the local people. She said that the inclusion of her full name, address and age in the article intruded into her privacy; she was unhappy that her personal details were published. She said that the newspaper had included her name without providing her with an opportunity to read the article beforehand. She was further concerned that the article was discriminatory as it had not represented both sides of the issue without bias.
5. The newspaper said that the article was not inaccurate; it was a balanced story featuring comments from both sides. It said that it had not agreed to withhold the complainant’s name, and that it was not the newspaper’s policy to give copy approval. It said that the complainant had asked when a photographer was coming to take her photograph. It also considered that the complainant expected the newspaper to publish an article “slanted to her opinion”.
Relevant Code Provisions
6. Clause 1 (Accuracy)
i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.
ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and - where appropriate - an apology published. In cases involving the Regulator, prominence should be agreed with the Regulator in advance.
Clause 3 (Privacy)
i) Everyone is entitled to respect for his or her private and family life, home, health and correspondence, including digital communications.
Clause 12 (Discrimination)
i) The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual's race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.
ii) Details of an individual's race, colour, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story.
Clause 14 (Confidential sources)
i) Journalists have a moral obligation to protect confidential sources of information.
Findings of the Committee
7. The Committee noted the complainant’s view that the article had not adequately represented the concerns she had raised in her letter, or the concerns of the local community, but rather had published an article that was “biased” towards the temple. However, the newspaper was entitled to report comments from a representative of the temple, and the fact that the article was not an exhaustive account of the complainant’s letter or the concerns of local residents did not raise a breach of Clause 1.
8. The complainant had contacted the newspaper with the aim of publicising her concerns about the temple, and had agreed to have her photograph taken. While the Committee acknowledged the complainant’s view that she would be afforded copy approval prior to publication, in these circumstances, and given that the complainant had pro-actively contacted the newspaper, the inclusion of her full name, age, and the name of the road on which she lived did not represent an intrusion into her private life. There was no breach of Clause 3.
9. The Committee noted the complainant’s position that her agreement to be named was conditional on being given the opportunity to see the article prior to publication. However, the complainant had not been provided with an assurance that she would be treated as a confidential source, and the decision to publish the article without providing her with an opportunity for copy approval did not raise a breach of Clause 14.
10. The article did not discriminate against any individual on the basis of race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or any physical or mental illness or disability. There was no breach of Clause 12.
11. The complaint was not upheld.
Remedial Action Required
Date complaint received: 25/09/2014Date decision issued: 14/01/2015 Back to ruling listing