Resolution Statement 12920-17 Armstrong v Liverpool Echo
1. Katharine Armstrong complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Liverpool Echo breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 3 (Harassment) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Seen the man clutching his pint in London terror attacks? Turns out he's Scouse”, published on 5 June 2017.
2. The article reported on speculation surrounding the identity of a man who was photographed following the London Bridge terror attack, holding a pint, amongst a crowd of people who were fleeing the incident. The article said that “a Facebook post shared by a relative claims he is from Maghull - and joked he was clutching onto the pint because of unreasonably high prices in the capital”.
3. The complainant, the sister of the man pictured and the author of the Facebook post, said that she had not shared her comments publicly. When she had posted her comments she had been speculating on the identity of the man pictured, no further steps were taken by the newspaper to establish the veracity of her claims. She said that a freelance reporter had attempted to contact her for comment, and had ignored her requests to desist.
4. The newspaper said that the complainant had reported on the post which the complainant had shared on social media, accurately. It said that the complainant’s privacy settings were set to “Friends of Friends”: there was no reasonable expectation of privacy in respect of a post which would have been seen by individuals both inside and outside her friendship network. The newspaper denied that the freelance reporter had been working on their behalf.
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. Account will be taken of the complainant's own public disclosures of information.
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.
6. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
7. While the newspaper did not accept a breach of the Code, it expressed regret that the article had caused the complainant upset. Following IPSO’s intervention, the matter was settled privately.
8. The complainant said that this resolved the matter to her satisfaction.
9. 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: 05/06/2017
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 10/07/2017