Resolution Statement 00608-17 Shooter v Mail Online
Summary of complaint
1. Katie Shooter complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Mail Online breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 6 (Children) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Crooked travel agent used company credit cards to steal £22,000 to fun string of globetrotting adventures – and chronicled her travels on Facebook”, published on 24 January 2017.
2. The complainant expressed concern that Mail Online had published a photograph of her then seven-year-old daughter in the article without her permission. The use of the image had given the misleading impression that her daughter had some involvement in the scam being reported, and its publication had intruded into her time at school.
3. The publication said that it was sorry if its article had caused any upset. On the day of publication, it had received a complaint from a family member and it had immediately removed the image. It said that the image had been supplied by an agency who had sourced it from an open Facebook profile. The child’s face had been pixelated so that they could not be identified, and she was not named or otherwise referred to in the article.
Relevant Code provisions
4. Clause 1 (Accuracy)
i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text.
ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and — where appropriate — an apology published. In cases involving IPSO, due prominence should be as required by the regulator.
Clause 6 (Children)
i) All pupils should be free to complete their time at school without unnecessary intrusion.
ii) They must not be approached or photographed at school without permission of the school authorities.
iii) Children under 16 must not be interviewed or photographed on issues involving their own or another child’s welfare unless a custodial parent or similarly responsible adult consents.
iv) Children under 16 must not be paid for material involving their welfare, nor parents or guardians for material about their children or wards, unless it is clearly in the child's interest.
v) Editors must not use the fame, notoriety or position of a parent or guardian as sole justification for publishing details of a child's private life.
5. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
6. The publication explained that it had considered that the pixilation of the image had been sufficient to avoid identification; it had merely used the image to illustrate the piece as it was one of a number provided by the agency. To resolve the complaint, it offered to send a private letter of apology and a gift voucher to the complainant’s daughter.
7. The complainant accepted the publication’s explanation and offer as a resolution to the complaint.
8. As the complaint was successfully mediated, the Complaints Committee did not make a determination as to whether there had been any breach of the Code.
complaint received: 24/01/2017
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 06/04/2017