Resolution Statement 17338-17 Canavan v Wishaw Press
Summary of complaint
1. Jemma Canavan complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Wishaw Press breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 2 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Get us out of here after gun and knives terror” published on 15 March 2017. The article was also published on dailyrecord.co.uk, headlined “Young couple living like prisoners in own home after guns and knives terror in Gowkthrapple.”
2. The article reported that the complainant and her husband had asked their housing co-operative to rehouse them due to anti-social behaviour. The article reported that the couple had been threatened with guns and knives and had been attacked with bottles and eggs while walking in Wishaw Main Street. The article detailed the complainant’s concern that the housing co-operative had not taken their concerns seriously and had not rehoused the couple as requested. The article included a photograph of the complainant and her husband, which also appeared on the front page of the newspaper.
3. The online article reported that the couple had “spotted neighbours who are threatening them armed with guns and knives” and went on to clarify that they had been “threatened at their home by people who they have seen with knives [and] guns.”
4. The complainant said that the article was misleading. She had told the newspaper that she had seen the neighbours that were threatening the couple with guns and knives, but had not said that they had been directly threatened with weapons, as reported in the article. The complainant also said it was inaccurate to state that they were being threatened by four separate families, and had been attacked in Wishaw Main Street. The complainant said that she had contacted the newspaper regarding her landlord’s failure to comply with their rules and regulations in regards to anti-social behaviour and had not wanted the article to focus on the dispute with her neighbours.
5. The complainant also said that while she and her husband had consented to their photograph being taken and published, its placement on the front page, as well as reporting the area in which they lived, was an intrusion into their private life and had put their safety at risk.
6. The newspaper did not accept that it had breached the Code. It said that the complainant had discussed the instances of anti-social behaviour with the journalist at length and said it was necessary to include these details to explain why the complainant believed her landlord’s inaction was unsatisfactory. The newspaper provided copies of the reporter’s notes from phone calls he had had with the complainant and her husband. It said that the complainant had told the reporter that she knew that her neighbours had guns and knives as she had seen them, and this had led the reporter to believe that the couple were being threatened by these weapons.
7. The newspaper also said that the couple had consented to the newspaper’s photographer coming to their home and had posed for photographs. They said that it was agreed that the article would refer to the area in which they lived, and did not believe that the publication of this detail represented private information about the complainant.
Relevant Code Provisions
7. 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 accuracy, 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.
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.
8. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
9. Following IPSO’s involvement, the newspaper offered, as a gesture of goodwill, to remove the article from its website and social media pages.
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: 02/08/2015
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 04/10/2017
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