Resolution Statement – 12378-20 Way v Mail Online
Summary of Complaint
1. Naomi Way complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Mail Online breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 6 (Children) in an article headline “Divorced single mother, 33, says she has no problem getting dates with men who call her 'beautiful' but claims she's been dumped 30 times because they see her two children as 'baggage'” published on 7 August 2020.
2. The article was a woman’s account of dating as a single parent. She said that in her experience, potential partners were put off by the fact she had children. The article included information about her life and background as well as photographs of her and her children. Her children’s faces were visible in these photographs and the article gave their names and ages.
3. The complainant was the woman whose account was reported in the article. She said that the article was inaccurate – it was not the case that she had been “dumped” 30 times and in fact she had been on 30 dates which had not worked out. She also said that the article breached Clause 2 and Clause 6 by using photographs of her and her children without her permission. She said that these were taken from her Facebook page.
4. The newspaper did not accept that the article breached the Editors’ Code. It said that the article was based on an interview the complainant gave to a different newspaper on the same points. It said that the headline of this original article also used the word “dumped”, and in any event the description was not an inaccurate summary of the complainant’s position that she had been on 30 failed dates. It said the photographs used in the article were publicly available on the complainant’s social media without any privacy settings, and noted that at the time the article was published, the original article used un-pixelated photographs of the children. It also said that identifying details of her children had already been provided with her consent to be used in the other article.
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.
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. 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.
v) Editors must not use the fame, notoriety or position of a parent or guardian as sole justification for publishing details of a child's private life.
8. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
9. During IPSO’s investigation, the publication offered to remove the online article from its website.
10. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to her satisfaction.
11. 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: 12/08/20
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 27/10/20