Resolution statement 05711-18 Jardine v thesun.co.uk
Summary of complaint
1. Stephanie Jardine complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that thesun.co.uk breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy) ,Clause 3 (Harassment) and Clause 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock) of the Editors' Code of Practice in two articles headlined:
· "HOUSEBOUND? Celebrity Big Brother star Ben Jardine's ex Stephanie desperately trying to get on the show to confront him after he moves on with mystery woman", published on 21 August 2018.
· "WEDDING HELL CBB's Ben Jardine 'suing' Married At First Sight bosses and having therapy after disastrous marriage to stranger Stephanie", published on 7 September 2018.
2. The complainant appeared on the television series "Married at First Sight" and after marrying a man on the show, they subsequently split-up. The first article reported that a TV insider had confirmed that the complainant was "desperate" to get on to the television show Celebrity Big Brother to confront her husband, who was set to appear on it. The article reported that she "got herself an agent" to approach the producers.
3. The second article featured an interview with the complainant's husband, in which he said he was going to sue the bosses of Married At First Sight and claimed that the complainant "wouldn’t leave him alone".
4. The complainant said that the first article was inaccurate as she has never had an agent and she was not "desperate" to get on Celebrity Big Brother; she had not tried to get on the show. She also said the article inaccurately reported that she had been contacted for comment.
5. She also said that the first article intruded into her privacy as it featured content taken from her Instagram account, which was subject to privacy settings. The complainant also said that publication of the article intruded into her grief at a time her relationship was breaking down.
6. The complainant said that the second article was inaccurate as it reported that she was constantly contacting her husband, which was not the case. She also said that the article gave the misleading impression that she was suing him.
7. The complainant said that the series of articles constituted harassment in breach of Clause 3 (Harassment).
8. The publication denied that the first article breached the Code, it said that a source had confirmed that the complainant had an agent and that she wanted to go on the show. It accepted that the complainant's Instagram account was private but emphasised that she used the account to speak to the media and claimed she had accepted several of the publication's reporters as followers. The publication said that it had contacted the complainant via Instagram. Nevertheless, the complainant said that it had contacted her an hour before publication, which did not provide a sufficient opportunity to respond.
9. The publication denied that the second article breached the Code, it said that it was clear that the story reported her husband was considering suing Channel 4, not the complainant. It said that the article did not report that the complainant had been constantly contacting her husband, it reported the ways in which she was not leaving him alone: she had been contacting his acquaintances.
Relevant Code Provisions
10. 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.
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.
i) Journalists must not engage in intimidation, harassment or persistent pursuit.
ii) They must not persist in questioning, telephoning, pursuing or photographing individuals once asked to desist; nor remain on property when asked to leave and must not follow them. If requested, they must identify themselves and whom they represent.
iii) Editors must ensure these principles are observed by those working for them and take care not to use non-compliant material from other sources.
4. Intrusion into grief or shock
In cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries and approaches must be made with sympathy and discretion and publication handled sensitively. These provisions should not restrict the right to report legal proceedings.
11. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
12. During IPSO's investigation, the matter was settled between the parties.
13. 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: 22/08/2018
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 25/03/2019
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