Resolution Statement: Complaint 00878-14 Achranoviciute v Mail Online
Summary of complaint
1. Jurgita Achranoviciute complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Mail Online had published an article, headlined “Schoolgirl, 13, took fatal drug overdose in act of impulse while she experimented with self-harm”, on 2 October 2014, which raised a breach of Clause 3 (Privacy), Clause 5 (Intrusion into grief or shock) and Clause 6 (Children) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.
2. The complainant, the sister of the teenager reported to have taken a fatal overdose, was concerned that the newspaper had published the full names of members of her family, and had taken and published their photographs, without permission. She also expressed concern that the newspaper had published photographs of her sister taken from her Facebook profile. She said that details regarding cuts to her sister’s neck and the claim that her sister had sent photographs via Snapchat had been misleading.
3. The newspaper expressed its heart-felt sympathy to the complainant and her family; however, the story, including the fact that images were sent via Snapchat, was based on information given at the inquest. The article made no mention of cuts to the neck. The photograph of family members was taken outside court in a public place. One member of the family had spoken to the reporter and given her name, but had not indicated that she objected to an article being published. The Facebook photographs were taken from an open profile.
Relevant Code Provisions
4. Clause 3 Privacy
i) Everyone is entitled to respect for his or her private and family life, home, health and correspondence, including digital communications.
ii) Editors will be expected to justify intrusions into any individual's private life without consent. Account will be taken of the complainant's own public disclosures of information.
iii) It is unacceptable to photograph individuals in private places without their consent.
Clause 5 Intrusion into grief or shock
i) In cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries and approaches must be made with sympathy and discretion and publication handled sensitively. This should not restrict the right to report legal proceedings, such as inquests.
ii) When reporting suicide, care should be taken to avoid excessive detail about the method used.
Clause 6 Children
i) Young people should be free to complete their time at school without unnecessary intrusion.
ii) A child 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.
iii) Pupils must not be approached or photographed at school without the permission of the school authorities.
5. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore instigated an investigation into the matter.
6. As the publication of photographs of her sister and the family continued to cause distress, the newspaper offered to remove them from the online article.
7. The complainant said the removal of the photographs would resolve the matter to her satisfaction.
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: 02/10/2014