Decision of the Complaints Committee - 02714-21 Lynn v Daily Mirror
Summary of Complaint
1. Ryan Lynn complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Daily Mirror breached Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “I'm not a scammer, that was my brother”, published on 4 February 2021.
2. The article was part of the newspaper’s ‘Penman investigates’ series and explored claims about the complainant’s employer. The complainant had resigned from his position at the company following the publication of the article. The article referred to the complainant by name and briefly mentioned his connection to the company and another business. The article included a photograph of the complainant and stated that he had been approached for comment.
3. A substantially similar version of the article also appeared online.
4. The complainant said that the newspaper had breached his privacy by publishing the image of him that accompanied the article, which had been obtained from his LinkedIn profile. Whilst the complainant accepted his LinkedIn profile was not set to private on 24 January, when he was contacted by the newspaper for comment about the story, he said that he had subsequently, and prior to the article’s publication, updated the privacy settings. He added that no permission had been sought by the newspaper to use the image, which he considered to be a breach of his privacy. The complainant also said that the article breached of Clause 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock) as it adversely affected his well-being and professional development by linking him to the investigation into his former employer. He said that he had been unaware of the matters discussed in the article.
5. The newspaper did not accept a breach of the Editors’ Code. It said that it had sourced the photograph of the complainant from his publicly accessible and available LinkedIn profile, two weeks prior to publication, and maintained that its publication did not represent an intrusion into his private life. It added that the reporter had attempted to contact the complainant for comment prior to publication but had received no response. It did not accept that the complainant’s concerns engaged the terms of Clause 4.
6. Notwithstanding this, in a gesture of goodwill, in direct correspondence with the complainant, the newspaper offered to amend the online article to make clear that the complainant had been unaware of the matters discussed in the article when he joined the company and resigned with immediate effect on being made aware of it.
Relevant Code Provisions
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.
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.
Findings of the Committee
7. Whilst the Committee acknowledged the complainant’s concerns, the disputed image had been published on his publicly available, LinkedIn account. Regardless of whether the complainant had de-activated his account or updated its privacy settings after being contacted by the newspaper, the information had been available in the public domain. In addition, the Committee noted that the image disclosed only the complainant’s likeness: it did not disclose any private or personal information about him, and did not show him engaged in private activity. It identified him in the context of his professional role at a former employer and as a former company director; this was not private information. In such circumstances, the Committee did not consider that the publication of the image represented an intrusion into the complainant’s private life. There was no breach of Clause 2.
8. The terms of Clause 4 relate to the obligations of newspapers when reporting on instances of personal grief or shock, and are designed to protect victims, and their families, from unwanted journalistic intrusion and insensitivity when they are at their most vulnerable. Coverage about the complainant’s previous employment history did not engage the terms of this Clause.
9. The complaint was not upheld.
Remedial Action Required
Date complaint received: 14/03/2021
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 17/06/2021Back to ruling listing