1. Janine Morrisson complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Gravesend Messenger breached Clause 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock) in an article headlined “God bless son, I hope we will meet again. Tight lines”, published on 26 January 2017.
2. The article reported on fundraising activities which were taking place in memory of the complainant’s son, Jack. It reported that her son’s father had “paid tribute” on a “Just Giving” page, set up in the complainant’s son’s memory, and included his comments.
3. The complainant was concerned by the inclusion of these comments in the article, which she said had caused distress to Jack’s sister. She said that the inquest into her son’s death had heard that he was estranged from his father, who had been subject to bail conditions for allegedly assaulting Jack in the week preceding his death.
4. The newspaper said that it had been unaware of the relationship between the complainant’s son and his father, when it had published his comments, which it said had been contained on a public page. It said that as soon as it had become aware of the situation, it had removed his comments from the online article.
5. Clause 4. (Intrusion into grief or shock)
In cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries and approaches must be made with sympathy and discretion and publication handled sensitively. These provisions should not restrict the right to report legal proceedings.
6. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
7. During IPSO’s investigation of the complaint, the newspaper offered to publish a 500 word tribute, based on statements from the complainant’s son’s eulogy.
8. It also offered to publish the following statement alongside the article: “On January 26, we published an article headlined “God bless son, I hope we will meet again. Tight lines fella" which included comments from Jack’s father, which he had published on a fundraising page set up in the teenager's memory. The inquest into Jack’s death on February 15, heard he was estranged from his father, who was subject to bail conditions for allegedly assaulting Jack in the week preceding his death. We were not aware of this at the time the article was published, and we apologise for any distress the inclusion of these comments, have caused to Jack’s family.”
9. The complainant said this would resolve her complaint to her satisfaction.
10. 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.
Date complaint received: 26/01/2017
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 03/05/2017