Resolution Statement - 08258-19 A woman v thesun.co.uk
Summary of Complaint
1. A woman complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that thesun.co.uk breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy), Clause 4 (Intrusion into grief and shock), Clause 5 (Reporting of suicide) and Clause 6 (Children) of the Editors' Code of Practice in an article headlined “’HE MADE A SAD BOY SO HAPPY' Emotional moment Steven Gerrard FaceTimes lad after youngster’s dad’s tragic death” published on 11 July 2019.
2. The article reported on a phone call made by former footballer Steven Gerrard to a child whose father had died the previous year. The article reported that the child’s father had died of cancer.
3. The complainant, the mother of the man who died, said that the article inaccurately reported her son’s cause of death. She also said that this error had caused great distress and upset to the family.
4. The publication accepted that they had inaccurately reported the man’s cause of death. It said it had amended the article to remove the cause of death after it became aware of the error on the same day that the article was published. The error had originated from a third party news site that was the source of the information.
Relevant Code Provisions
5. 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.
Clause 3 (Harassment)*
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.
Clause 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.
Clause 5 (Reporting Suicide)*
When reporting suicide, to prevent simulative acts care should be taken to avoid excessive detail of the method used, while taking into account the media's right to report legal proceedings.
Clause 6 (Children)*
i) All pupils should be free to complete their time at school without unnecessary intrusion.
ii) They must not be approached or photographed at school without permission of the school authorities.
iii) Children under 16 must not be interviewed or photographed on issues involving their own or another child’s welfare unless a custodial parent or similarly responsible adult consents.
iv) Children under 16 must not be paid for material involving their welfare, nor parents or guardians for material about their children or wards, unless it is clearly in the child's interest.
6. The complaint was not resolved during the referral period. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
7. During IPSO’s investigation, the matter was settled between the 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: 22/10/2019
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 12/12/2019