Decision of the Complaints Committee 02869-18 Lamb v shieldsgazette.com
Summary of complaint
1. Amanda Lamb complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, on behalf of herself and her husband, that shieldsgazette.com breached Clause 2 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined, “New multi-million pound development in Jarrow is opened,” published on 11 April 2017.
2. The article
reported that a new housing development had been formally opened. It included
a statement from the Mayor, who opened the complex, and included a statement from the complainant who lived in the development. The statement included her
comments on the location of the development, and included details about her
3. The complainant said that she had said
something similar to the comment published in the article when individuals from
the council’s housing department had visited their home to carry out a review,
shortly after they had moved in to the property. However she said that she had
not consented to this being published. She said that where she lived, and
details about her husband’s health were private and should not have been
published without their consent.
4. The publication did not accept that it had breached the Editors’ Code. It said that the complainant’s comment had come from a press release, issued by the council press office on behalf of the housing trust. It provided a copy of the press release, which had been distributed to the media. It said that where this information was included in a press release, it had no reason to believe that the individual’s referred to in the statement had not consented to its publication. Regardless, as a gesture of goodwill, it removed the article from the website.
Relevant Code Provisions
5. 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. Account will be taken of the complainant’s own public disclosures of information.
Findings of the Committee
6. The Committee recognised that the complainant and her husband had not consented to the information included in the article being published. It also recognised that health, specifically, is a category of private information under the Code. However, where the complainant lived, and information relating to her husband’s health had been disclosed publicly by the council in its press release. In these circumstances, publishing this information that had already been put in the public domain by the council did not intrude further into the complainant’s privacy. This information had been provided by the local authority, and there was no obligation on the newspaper to check that the complainant had consented to it being published. There was no breach of Clause 2. However the Committee welcomed the newspaper’s offer to remove the article when it became aware of the complainant’s concerns.
7. The complaint was not upheld.
Remedial Action required
Date complaint received: 06/04/2018
Date decision issued: 08/06/2018
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