Decision of the Complaints Committee 02721-18 A man v Evening Telegraph (Dundee)
Summary of complaint
1. A man complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Evening Telegraph (Dundee) breached Clause 2 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in a feature headlined, “Dundee Life” published in print in 2018.
2. The feature was a collection of photographs taken at various nightlife venues in Dundee. It included a photograph of the complainant standing beside another man, smiling at the camera, in front of a bar. The name of the venue, Klozet, was also published at the corner of the photograph, but it was not otherwise captioned.
3. The complainant said that the photograph showed him and his new partner. He complained that the publication of this photograph was a breach of his privacy. He said that a professional photographer, who had not introduced herself as being from a newspaper, had approached him and the man he was with at the bar and asked to take a photograph. The complainant had not asked what the purpose of the photograph was, but believed that she may have been a commercial photographer, who was taking the photograph for the purposes of trying to sell him a souvenir keyring. He also recognised that there was a possibility that the photograph was intended for publication and would be displayed somewhere. He agreed to pose for the photograph but said that when he reviewed it on the screen, he had asked for it to be deleted as he was unhappy with his appearance.
4. The photograph was published by the newspaper shortly after. The complainant said that a family member had seen the photograph in the newspaper and had asked questions about his relationship with the man standing beside him. The complainant said that he had not told his family about his new relationship, and therefore publishing a photograph of him and his partner without his consent was a breach of his privacy.
5. The newspaper
did not accept that it had breached the Code. It said that the photograph did
not disclose any private information about the complainant. It said that the
published photograph showed only two men standing at a bar and did not disclose
anything about the nature of the relationship between them.
6. It said that the photographer regularly took photographs at the venue for the newspaper, and did so with full permission from the venue. It said that it was common for bars to take photographs for publication, whether in a newspaper or to publish on their own social media. It said that the photographer had not told the complainant that the photograph was for a keyring and that when the complainant had agreed to pose for a professional photographer within this setting, it was reasonable to accept this as consent for the photograph to be published. The newspaper strongly denied the complainant’s claim that he had asked for the photograph to be deleted, and said that the photographer remembered showing him the photograph, and was adamant that no objection had been raised.
Relevant Code Provisions
7. 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 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.
Findings of the Committee
8. The photograph was a posed shot of two individuals in a public venue. It showed that the complainant had been in the company of another identifiable individual at Klozet bar. While it was regrettable that the publication of the photograph had instigated a difficult conversation for the complainant, by his own account, the publication had not revealed the fact of the relationship. Instead, it had prompted a family member to question him about the photograph, and which point he had disclosed the fact of the relationship. The photograph itself had not revealed the nature of the relationship, and did not show anything inherently private about the complainant. Nor did it show him engaged in any private activity.
9. The photograph had been taken with the complainant’s knowledge and consent. The Committee acknowledged that there was a dispute between the parties regarding whether the complainant had asked for the photograph to be deleted, and it was not possible for the Committee to reconcile the two differing accounts. Regardless, the concern the complainant had prior to publication, was that he did not like his appearance in the photograph, and it was not in dispute that he had not raised any possible objection based on the fact that he believed the photograph contained private information about him. In these circumstances, there was no breach of Clause 2.
10. The complaint was not upheld
Remedial Action Required
Date complaint received: 27/03/18
Date complaint concluded: 24/08/2018
Back to ruling listing