Resolution Statement – 02037-22 A woman v Barnsley Chronicle

Decision: Resolved - IPSO mediation

Resolution Statement – 02037-22 A woman v Barnsley Chronicle

Summary of Complaint

1. A woman complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Barnsley Chronicle breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 2 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article published on 11 March 2022.

2. The article reported on a short film and contained an interview with the film’s writer. It described the writer as being “a domestic abuse survivor” who it said had “fled domestic abuse” and also as the mother of “two autistic sons”.

3. The article also appeared online in substantially the same format.

4. The complainant, the film’s writer, said that the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1. She said that during the interview with the journalist she had agreed to the article referencing the fact that she had received therapy with a charity which aims to support “people affected by domestic abuse and sexual violence”, but she said she did not consent to being called a “domestic abuse survivor” who “fled domestic abuse”, and that she had not described herself in this way. The complainant also said it was inaccurate to state she had two autistic sons.

5. The complainant said that during the interview she had asked that no reference, mention or implication of any personal domestic abuse be published in the article. She said that publishing this information therefore resulted in a breach of Clause 2. She also said she did not give consent for the information to be published about her children, which she also said was an intrusion into her privacy.

6. The publication said that the journalist who had interviewed the complainant had taken contemporaneous notes and provided them to IPSO. It said that it had appeared during the interview that the complainant had wanted to refer to the charity she had received therapy from, and that she had not asked for any information not to be included. The publication said that the information regarding the complainant’s children had been published in human error and was not supported by her notes.

7. The publication said it did not accept that the complainant had requested any of the information she gave during the interview not to be published. It therefore did not consider she had a reasonable expectation of privacy over the information as she had willingly given it to a journalist.

8. The publication offered to publish a follow up article in order to clear up the complainant’s concerns.

Relevant Code Provisions

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.

iii) A fair opportunity to reply to significant inaccuracies should be given, when reasonably called for.

iv) The Press, while free to editorialise and campaign, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

Clause 2 (Privacy)*

i) Everyone is entitled to respect for their private and family life, home, physical and mental health, and correspondence, including digital communications.

ii) Editors will be expected to justify intrusions into any individual's private life without consent. In considering an individual's reasonable expectation of privacy, account will be taken of the complainant's own public disclosures of information and the extent to which the material complained about is already in the public domain or will become so.

iii) It is unacceptable to photograph individuals, without their consent, in public or private places where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Mediated Outcome

9. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.

10. During IPSO’s investigation the publication offered to print the following correction:

In an article headline "Producer lends support to writer Jennifer's film project" published on 11 March, we reported that the film's writer had "fled domestic abuse". In fact, the writer had not said this during the interview, and has asked us to make clear this was not true. We are happy to clarify this.

11. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to her satisfaction.

12. 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: 14/03/2022

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 01/07/2022

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