Resolution Statement 08902-19 A woman v Border Counties Advertizer
Summary of Complaint
1. A woman complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Border Counties Advertizer breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 6 (Children) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article published on 6 November 2019.
2. The article reported on a Councillor who had received online abuse, and his daughter who was also the recipient of abuse. The article was based on an interview with the former, and reported that he had said that the online abuse was “affecting my daughter’s mental health.”
3. The article also appeared online in substantially the same format.
4. The complainant, the mother of the Councillor’s daughter, said that the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 because she had been present during the interview with the Councillor, and he had not mentioned the term “mental health”. She also believed that the phrase “affecting my daughter’s mental health” misleadingly suggested that her daughter had a mental health condition.
5. The complainant also said that the article breached Clause 2 as it had said her daughter had mental health issues without her daughter, or her daughter’s guardians, permission. This was compounded by the use of her daughter’s photograph. She also said it breached Clause 6 for naming her daughter and including a photograph of her.
6. The publication said that there had been no breach of Clause 1. It had accurately reported the interview with the Councillor, and had notes which referred to mental health. In addition, it said that someone’s mental health being affected did not give the impression that that person had a mental health condition.
7. The publication said that there was no breach of Clause 2 as it was the Councillor who had referred to his daughter during the interview, therefore it did have the consent of a guardian. In addition, it stated that Clause 6 was not engaged as the complainant’s daughter was not under 16.
Relevant Clause Provisions
8. 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 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.
9. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
10. The publication offered to print a statement clarifying that the article did not intend to state that the Councillor’s daughter had a mental health condition in order to resolve the complaint.
11. The complainant said that the offer of a clarifying statement would resolve her complaint, however due to the lapse of time and as she did not want the claim to be printed again, she was happy for no statement to be published.
12. 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: 12/11/2019
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 04/02/2020