Decision of the Complaints Committee 01208-14 Mouelhi v Daily Star
Summary of complaint
1. Mesbeh Mouelhi complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Daily Star had breached Clause 3 (Privacy) and Clause 12 (Discrimination) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Benefits mum blows £18,000 on toyboy rat”, published on 31 July 2014.
2. The article told the story of the complainant’s partner’s former husband, to whom she said she had given her life savings before deciding to seek a divorce. At the time of publication she had entered into a new relationship with the complainant, and the article noted that both men were young and Tunisian.
3. The complainant said that the newspaper had published photographs of him without his consent, and he had not given permission for his personal details to be published. He said that this breached Clause 3. He also said that the article had prompted people to criticise him, but did not explain further why this constituted a breach of Clause 12.
4. The newspaper said that the picture of the complainant and his partner had been provided by his partner. It said that the newspaper had not taken the photograph, and it had not been taken without the complainant’s permission. It said that it understood that the complainant’s partner had previously posted the photograph on her Facebook page. It said that the complainant could not have had a reasonable expectation that the photograph would remain private, and it did not reveal any private information about him. It said that the Code did not prohibit the reporting of a person’s nationality, and it did not believe that the article raised a breach of Clause 12.
Relevant Code Provisions
5. Clause 3 (Privacy)
i) Everyone is entitled to respect for his or her private and family life, home, health and correspondence, including pictures.
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.
Findings of the Committee
6. The article under complaint was the story of the complainant’s partner’s relationships. She was entitled to tell her story, in accordance with her right to freedom of expression. While the Committee acknowledged the complainant’s concern about the inclusion of details which he considered to be personal, in light of the nature of the information and the fact that it had been provided to the newspaper by his partner, the Committee concluded that the publication of this information did not raise a breach of Clause 3.
7. The complainant’s partner had provided the photograph of the complainant to the newspaper, and she had been remunerated for its use; it had not been obtained in a way which intruded into his privacy. Further, it did not reveal any information about him which would be considered private under the terms of Clause 3. There was no breach of Clause 3.
8. While it was regrettable that the complainant had received criticism following publication of the article, this would not in itself engage the terms of Clause 12.
9. The complaint was not upheld.
Remedial Action Required
Date complaint received: 07/10/2014Date decision issued: 20/02/2015 Back to ruling listing