Resolution Statement Complaint 13309-16 Furlong-Gallagher v Take a Break

Decision: Resolved - IPSO mediation

Resolution Statement Complaint 13309-16 Furlong-Gallagher v Take a Break

Summary of complaint

1. Molly Furlong-Gallagher complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Take a Break breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy), Clause 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock) and Clause 6 (Children) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “One last fairy-tale day”, published on 17 November 2016.

2. The article was a man’s account of his marriage to the complainant’s mother.

3. The complainant said that the article had contained a number of inaccuracies. She expressed particular concern that it had inaccurately stated that she and her sister had been present when their mother had died, and that their mother’s ashes had been buried rather than scattered. She also expressed concern that the article had named her and her 16-year-old sister, and that a photograph of them had been published without their knowledge or consent. She said the piece had caused them considerable distress and had intruded into their grief.

4. The magazine said that it was sorry that the complainant and her sister had been upset by the article, which had been supplied by an agency; it was meant to be a loving tribute to their mother. It explained that the article had originally been written by their mother and she had provided the photographs. As their mother had passed away before its publication, her husband had agreed to tell the story on her behalf and he had said that his wife’s children, who were over 16, had consented to the publication of the photographs. The words had been read back to him before publication and he had not raised any concerns about their accuracy. Although the magazine did not accept a breach of the Code, it said that it would not revisit the story, and noted that it was not available online.

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 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 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.

Mediated outcome

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

7. The magazine offered to make a contribution towards a holiday for the complainant and her sister. 

8. The complainant said that the magazine’s offer would resolve 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: 16/11/2016
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 05/01/2017

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