Resolution Statement – 02638-20 A woman v Mail Online
Summary of Complaint
1. A woman complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Mail Online breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy), Clause 3 (Harassment), Clause 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock), Clause 6 (Children), Clause 12 (Discrimination) and Clause 14 (Confidential sources) of the Editors' Code of Practice in an article headlined "Moment weary foul-mouthed EasyJet flight attendant, 36, starts mocking British passengers for getting their 'glowing' teeth done in Turkey”, published on 5 October 2019.
2. The article reported that the complainant, a flight attendant, had criticised passengers for undertaking dental procedures in Turkey in a video on Snapchat. The article featured the video in question, which was taken by the complainant while she was at work.
3. The complainant said that the article was inaccurate, as she was not criticising or mocking passengers in the video and that the article gave an inaccurate impression of her comments due to the circumstances in which the video was made. She said that publishing footage of this incident constituted an intrusion into her grief or shock. The complainant also said that she had a reasonable expectation of privacy regarding the information in the article which reported her name, age, and hometown, and in regard to the video itself, which was only shared with around 20 colleagues on a work snapchat group. She said the publication of the article and the subsequent backlash she had received through user comments beneath the article constituted harassment in breach of Clause 3. The complainant said that the article breached the terms of Clause 6 due to the effect it would have on her daughter. She also said that the article discriminated against her in breach of Clause 12.
4. Before contacting IPSO the complainant contacted the publication, which agreed to remove the user comments as a means to resolve the matter.
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.
6. 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. 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.
7. Clause 3 (*Harassment)
i) Journalists must not engage in intimidation, harassment or persistent pursuit.
ii) They must not persist in questioning, telephoning, pursuing or photographing individuals once asked to desist; nor remain on property when asked to leave and must not follow them. If requested, they must identify themselves and whom they represent.
iii) Editors must ensure these principles are observed by those working for them and take care not to use non-compliant material from other sources.
8. Clause 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock)
In cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries and approaches must be made with sympathy and discretion and publication handled sensitively. These provisions should not restrict the right to report legal proceedings.
9. 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.
ii) The restrictions on intruding into privacy are particularly relevant to enquiries about individuals in hospitals or similar institutions.
10. Clause 12 (Discrimination)
i) The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual's, race, colour, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.
ii) Details of an individual's race, colour, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story.
11. Clause 14 (Confidential sources)
Journalists have a moral obligation to protect confidential sources of information.
12. The complainant was not satisfied with the publication’s offer and complained to IPSO, which began an investigation into the matter.
13. The publication said that it was not aware of some new details raised by the complainant in her IPSO complaint regarding the private nature of the video, and upon receiving the complaint it promptly offered to remove the article.
14. The complaint said that she was content to resolve the matter on this basis.
15. 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: 15/04/2020
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 19/05/2020Back to ruling listing