Resolution Statement: Complaint 01898-14 A man v The Daily Telegraph
1. A man complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Daily Telegraph had published an article, headlined “The doctor who threatened neighbours with knife is tasered”, on 23 November 2014, which raised a breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 3 (Privacy) and Clause 12 (Discrimination) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.
2. The complainant said his wife had experienced a serious mental health crisis and therefore the publication of her name and photograph had breached her right to privacy. He also expressed concern that a reporter had shown neighbours a photograph, taken from his wife’s Facebook profile, which showed her holding their two-year-old daughter. He further complained that the article contained inaccuracies, including that his wife was an NHS doctor, and expressed concern that the publication of a reference to her country of origin had been discriminatory.
3. The newspaper said it had reported an incident that had involved danger to the public and had taken place in public; it was not a private matter. If the police confirmed they were now treating the incident as a health issue, rather than a criminal one, it would amend the online article accordingly. The reporter had used the image taken from Facebook for the purposes of identification; it was not published. The reporter was informed that the complainant’s wife was a doctor; when he visited the complainant’s house to verify this, the person who answered declined to comment. As it had now been informed of the correct position, it amended the online article. The reference to the complainant’s wife’s country of origin was intended to be descriptive, but it accepted that it had been irrelevant and so deleted it from the online article.
Relevant Code Provisions
4. Clause 1 Accuracy
i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.
ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and - where appropriate - an apology published. In cases involving the Regulator, prominence should be agreed with the Regulator in advance.
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.
Note - Private places are public or private property where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.
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.
5. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore instigated an investigation into the matter.
6. The case against the complainant’s wife was closed by police; therefore the newspaper removed her name from the online article.
7. The complainant said the removal of his wife’s name had resolved the matter to his 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.
Date complaint received: 23/11/2014Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 02/02/2015 Back to ruling listing