· Decision of the Complaints Committee 01933-14 Kiely v Daily Mail
Summary of complaint
Summary of complaint
1. Laura Kiely complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Daily Mail had breached Clause 3 (Privacy) and Clause 5 (Intrusion into grief or shock) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “The Ultimate Betrayal”, published on 15 November 2014, and an article headlined “The ultimate betrayal: As two teachers from the same school are jailed for having sex with the same 17 year old pupil, why ARE there so many predators in our staff rooms?”, published online on 14 November 2014.
2. The article reported that Jonathan Egan, the complainant’s husband, had been jailed for having sex with a 17-year-old pupil at the school where he taught. It began with a description of Mr Egan on his wedding day, and contrasted this with his subsequent conviction on seven charges of sexual activity with a child while in a position of trust. The online version of the article had been accompanied by three images of Mr Egan at his wedding. The print version of the article contained a cropped version of one of these images. A journalist from the newspaper contacted the complainant on 12 November, after the sentencing hearing on 7 November, to ask whether she would consider speaking to the journalist about Mr Egan’s sentence. In her reply, the complainant requested that the article did not contain her name.
3. The complainant said that following the arrest of her husband, she had tried to distance herself from what had happened, and keep herself separate from the court proceedings involving her husband. She considered that the inclusion of the details about her wedding, and the use of photographs taken at her wedding, was a breach of her privacy. She said that her hands, part of her dress, flowers and veil could be seen in several of the photographs, and that she was identifiable by anyone who knew her. In addition, she said that several members of her family and friends were recognisable in one of the pictures. She was concerned about the effects the article would have on her professional life. In addition, she said that the previous 8 months of her life had been extremely difficult, and that the newspaper’s use of her wedding pictures demonstrated no sensitivity.
4. The newspaper said that it had taken care not to name or picture the complainant in the article. It said that any guests at the wedding, or people who knew Jonathan Egan before his criminal behaviour had been made public, would have already been aware that the complainant had been his bride. Furthermore, it said that marriage is a public event, a matter of record and that any member of the public may attend a church ceremony. In addition, it said that Mr Egan’s conviction was a matter of public interest, and that it was important to illustrate his life prior to his conviction. The newspaper said that photographs had been sourced from a website on which users can voluntarily upload their wedding photographs. The newspaper noted that the photographs in question were uploaded by “Laura Kiely (Bride)”, and were accompanied by captions which appeared to have been written by the complainant.
5. As a gesture of goodwill, the newspaper removed two of the photographs from the online article.
Relevant Code Provisions
6. 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.
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.
Findings of the Committee
7. The complainant did not dispute that she had published the photographs on the internet and provided details about her wedding in the photographs’ captions. Having regard for the complainant’s own public disclosure of the information and photographs in question, the Committee did not establish a breach of Clause 3.
8. Clause 5 relates to the obligations of newspapers when reporting on instances of personal grief or shock, and is designed to protect victims, and their families, from unwanted journalistic intrusion and insensitivity when they are at their most vulnerable. Whilst the Committee recognised that the complainant was still dealing with the personal consequences of the events relating to her husband, it took the view that this was not a case of personal shock such as to engage the terms of Clause 5. Nevertheless, the Committee welcomed the newspaper’s decision to crop the complainant out of the photographs before publication, particularly in light of the terms of Clause 9 (Reporting of Crime).
9. The Committee also welcomed the newspaper’s decision to remove two of the photographs from the online article.
10. The complaint was not upheld.
Remedial Action Required
Date complaint received: 25/11/2015Date decision issued: 12/03/2015 Back to ruling listing