Resolution Statement 04079-18 A man v. That’s Life
1. A man complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that That’s Life! breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 2 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Two's company, three's allowed”, published on 28 June 2018.
2. The article was an account of a story told to the magazine by a named woman. In the piece, the woman had claimed that her relationship with a man with the same name as the complainant had broken down following a night at a hotel, when she had discovered him having sex with her twin sister.
3. The complainant said that his name had been published in connection with a fake story. He had never been at a hotel with either of the women and had no involvement in the events which the article described. He said that identifying him as being the subject of this story was inaccurate and an intrusion into his privacy.
4. The magazine said that it had taken proper steps prior to publication in order to establish the accuracy of the story provided by the woman. It said that a journalist had conducted a detailed interview with the woman and she was asked to sign a contract to confirm that her story was true. Furthermore, the article had sought and made contact with those named by the woman in the story, including with a man they believed was associated with the story. These calls had corroborated the woman’s story. The magazine said that this was a highly unusual situation: it relied upon members of the public approaching it with their personal stories and it took, on good faith, that these stories were true.
5. The magazine did not accept that publishing the complainant’s name represented an intrusion into his privacy and noted that the story was in the public interest.
Relevant Code Provisions
6. 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.
iii) A fair opportunity to reply to significant inaccuracies should be given, when reasonably called for.
iv) The Press, while free to editorialise and campaign, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.
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.
6. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
7. During IPSO’s investigation, the publication and complainant reached a private agreement, which resolved the matter to the satisfaction of both parties.
8. 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: 21/06/2018
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 21/09/2018