Resolution Statement – 18599-17 Stand Against Racism & Inequality v Mail Online
Summary of complaint
1. Stand Against Racism & Inequality, on behalf of Kamaran Ahmad Ali and family, complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Mail Online breached Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Man ‘killed his neighbour before leaving his dismembered PENIS lying next to his dead body in a block of flats they shared’”, published on 8 September 2017.
2. The article was a report of the pre-trial proceedings of an individual, charged with the murder of a member of Mr Ali’s family. The article included details of the deceased’s injuries, and claimed that these details had been heard during the court proceedings.
3. The complainant said that these details had not been mentioned in court. It said that the family had not been aware of these details prior to the publication of the article, and that the inclusion had intruded into the family’s private life, and into their grief. The complainant expressed particular concern that publication had not been handled sensitively and noted the distress that the publication of the article had caused the family.
4. The publication apologised for the distress that the article had caused the family but did not accept that there had been a breach of the Code. It said that the details were referred to in open court and that as there were no reporting restrictions in place, it was entitled to report on these. While the publication acknowledged that the details were upsetting to read, it did not consider that their inclusion was insensitive, such as to breach the Code.
Relevant Code Provisions
5. 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.
6. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
7. Following IPSO’s intervention, the publication offered to write a private letter of apology to the family.
8. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to its 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: 21/09/2017
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 23/11/2017