Resolution Statement 01401-17 Llewellyn v Mail Online
Summary of complaint
1. Rebecca Llewellyn complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Mail Online breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy), and Clause 6 (Children) in an article headlined “Pictured: 15-year-old's shocking injuries after he was attacked as he got off a bus on his way to school”, published on 14 February 2017.
2. The article reported that the complainant’s 15 year old son had been physically attacked following a “bullying” incident after he had got off a bus. It included photographs of her son, with significant facial injuries. The article reported “the family of a schoolboy have released shocking pictures of his swollen and bloodied face” and continued by reporting that the photograph had been shared with his mother’s permission.
3. The complainant expressed concern that the article inaccurately reported that her son had been bullied. She also said she had not given her permission for the photographs of her son to be included in the article.
4. The newspaper said that its report was based on a viral Facebook post, which included the images of the complainant’s son. The newspaper said that the author of the post had stated that the photos had been shared with his mother’s permission, and several people had commented on the post saying that the complainant’s son had been bullied. It said that preceding IPSO’s involvement, the newspaper had removed the article, when the complainant had contacted them to make them aware of her concerns.
Relevant Code provisions
5. 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 2 (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.
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.
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 write the complainant’s son a letter of regret, as well as make a donation to a charity of the complainant’s choice.
8. The complainant said this would resolve his complaint to his satisfaction.
9. 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: 15/02/2017
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 26/04/2017
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