Resolution Statement 09272-19 A Woman v Manchester Evening News

Decision: Resolved - IPSO mediation

Resolution Statement 09272-19 A Woman v Manchester Evening News

1. A woman complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Manchester Evening News breached Clause 2 (Privacy), Clause 6 (Children), and Clause 9 (Reporting of crime) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Both be seeing me very soon – you’re dead, trust me... “, published on 30 November 2019

2. The article reported on the conviction of a man for various violent, antisocial and sexual offences. It included photographs of the man.

3. The article appeared online on 28 November 2019 with the headline: 'You're dead. Trust me'... scaffolder posted nude pics of his ex-girlfriend on Whatsapp and threatened to kill her after she complained”. It was substantially the same as the print version, but included two photographs of the man with a young child. The child’s face was pixelated.

4. The complainant was the mother of the child pictured in the online article. She said that despite the photograph being pixelated, friends and family were able to identify her child. She said that the identification of her child in association with the man, in the context of a court report into several serious convictions, caused her much distress and represented a breach of Clause 2, Clause 6, and Clause 9.

5. The publication apologised for any distress caused but did not accept that there was any breach of the Code. It said that it removed the photographs as soon it was contacted by the complainant, and that it was important to include the photographs to contrast the man’s crimes with his lack of regard for the wellbeing of the young child. It also noted that the photographs had been taken from an open social media page, and the newspaper had taken steps to pixelate the child’s face.

Relevant Code 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.

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.

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 under the age of 18 who witness, or are victims of, crime. This should not restrict the right to report legal proceedings.

iii) Editors should generally avoid naming children under the age of 18 after arrest for a criminal offence but before they appear in a youth court unless they can show that the individual’s name is already in the public domain, or that the individual (or, if they are under 16, a custodial parent or similarly responsible adult) has given their consent. This does not restrict the right to name juveniles who appear in a crown court, or whose anonymity is lifted.

Mediated Outcome

7. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.

8. During IPSO’s investigation, as a gesture of goodwill, the publication offered to write the complainant a private letter of apology.

9. The complainant said that this would resolve her complaint.

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: 02/12/2019

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 29/01/2020

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