· Decision of the Complaints Committee 04850-15 Howell v Daily Express
Summary of complaint
1. Philip Howell complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Daily Express had breached Clause 3 (Privacy) and Clause 9 (Reporting of Crime) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Police haul ‘abusive Brits off Ibiza flight for drunkenly abusing cabin crew’”, published online on 18 July 2015.
2. The article reported that a group of holidaymakers had been escorted from a flight for allegedly abusing cabin crew who had told them that they would be limited to one alcoholic drink each during the flight. The article included a photograph, which showed the complainant, the captain of the aircraft, watching police as they dealt with the incident on board.
3. The complainant said the publication of his image could result in him being targeted by the accused men. Furthermore, he did not want to be associated with any potential prosecution that might be brought by the airline or the Civil Aviation Authority. He said his image had nothing to do with the story and had added nothing to it. He had been acting solely in his professional role and had been legally required to maintain order on the aircraft. He asked for his image to be pixelated.
4. The newspaper considered that a passenger on the flight may have had a reasonable expectation of privacy; however, it did not consider that the aircraft’s captain could claim such a right. It said the complainant was shown acting as the captain, exercising his decision to have a group of passengers removed. It further considered that the complainant could not have had any expectation of privacy once the police had entered the aircraft.
5. The newspaper said the complainant was not named in the article, and the image was not captioned as showing the captain of the aircraft. It did not consider that the article had revealed any private information about the complainant, and it declined his request to pixelate his image.
6. The newspaper said the image showed the events unfolding on the aeroplane. It did not consider that Clause 9 had been breached.
Relevant Code Provisions
7. Clause 3 (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.
iii.) It is unacceptable to photograph individuals in private places without their consent. Note - Private places are public or private property where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.
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.
ii.) Particular regard should be paid to the potentially vulnerable position of children who witness, or are victims of, crime. This should not restrict the right to report legal proceedings.
Findings of the Committee
8. The image had not shown the complainant doing anything private. It had shown him standing in the main cabin of the aircraft, in clear view of passengers and crew, as he carried out his professional duties as captain. He did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such circumstances. As the image had not disclosed any private information about the complainant, the complaint under Clause 3 was not upheld.
9. Clause 9 is intended to protect friends or relatives of individuals accused or convicted of crime, or children who witness or are victims of crime from identification in the press. The complaint did not engage the terms of this Clause.
The complaint was not upheld.
Remedial Action Required
Date complaint received: 03/08/2015Date decision issued: 26/10/2015