Resolution Statement 07016-19 Fryer v Great Yarmouth Mercury
Summary of Complaint
1. Ashley-Jane Fryer complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Great Yarmouth Mercury breached Clause 2 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “‘Tears burst out of my eyes’ – mobility scooter donation praised by woman”, published on 23 October 2019.
2. The article reported that a woman had been gifted a mobility scooter by a local company. The article contained quotes from a letter the woman had sent to the company to thank it, as well as details of her health, and a photograph of her sitting on the scooter.
3. The article appeared online under the same headline and was substantially the same as the print article.
4. The complainant said that the article breached of Clause 2 of the Editors’ Code. She said that although she initially gave permission for her letter to be published, she did not give permission for her photograph to be used. Furthermore, when the article and photograph were published online, she said that she spoke to the publication because she had changed her mind, and did not want the article to appear in print. She said that she was assured that it would not appear in print, however, it did in the following week’s edition. She said that this caused her much distress.
5. The publication apologised for any upset and distress that it had caused the complainant, however it did not accept that it had breached the Code. The publication said it had received both the letter of thanks and the photograph from the mobility scooter company for the purposes of publication. It had then contacted the complainant to confirm that she was happy for her letter to be published; she did not state that she did not want the photographs to be published. When the complainant contacted the publication after the article appeared online, it promptly removed the photograph. The publication did accept that the complainant had told it that she did not want the article to appear in the print version of the newspaper; it said that it then appeared in print due to an internal misunderstanding. It understood that had upset the complainant, and offered to publish an apology in print or online.
Relevant Clause Provisions
6. 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.
7. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
8. The publication offered to write a private letter of apology to the complainant and reached a private arrangement in order to settle her complaint.
9. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to her satisfaction.
10. 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: 09/09/2019
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 16/10/2019