Decision of the Complaints Committee 04012-15 A woman v Mail Online
Summary of complaint
1. A woman complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Mail Online breached Clause 9 (Reporting of crime) in an article headlined “Burglar ‘caught trying to break into house by hidden camera installed by BBC Springwatch presenter to monitor urban foxes’”, published on 4 June 2015.
2. The article reported the on-going trial of a man who had been charged with burglary and attempted burglary.
3. The complainant was a friend of the man who had been charged, and had arrived at court with him to give him “family support”, although she said that she had not attended the hearing. She said that the inclusion in the article of a photograph of her standing behind him represented a breach of Clause 9. She had contacted the newspaper directly, prior to contacting IPSO, and it had cropped her out of the photograph.
4. The newspaper said that it had made no attempt to actively identify the complainant in the article: she was not named, nor was she referred to in the text. It said that there was no suggestion that she had been involved in the crime for which her friend was subsequently convicted. The newspaper said that the complainant had accompanied her friend to court, and her presence on the day made her genuinely relevant to the story.
Relevant Code Provisions
5. Clause 9 (Reporting of crime)
i) Relatives or friends of persons convicted or accused of crime should not generally be identified without their consent, unless they are genuinely relevant to the story.
Findings of the Committee
6. The press is generally entitled to report what is heard in court, and to photograph those involved in court cases arriving and leaving the court buildings, subject to any other legal restrictions. In this case, the inclusion of the complainant in the image had been incidental. She was in the background of a photograph of the defendant, and the image did not suggest the nature of the relationship between the two individuals. She was not referred to in the text of the article, nor was the relationship between the two individuals specified. The Committee found that the complainant had not been identified as a friend or relative of the accused man, and the terms of Clause 9 were not engaged. Nonetheless, the Committee welcomed the newspaper’s prompt response to the complainant’s concerns.
7. The complaint was not upheld.
Remedial Action Required
Date complaint received: 09/06/2015
Date decision issued: 24/09/2015Back to ruling listing