Resolution Statement 18928-17 Dixon v Daily Express
Summary of complaint
1. Eloise Dixon complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Daily Express breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy), Clause 3 (Harassment) and Clause 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “British mum SHOT in front of her young children during Brazil holiday”, published on 7 August 2017; an article headlined “Daughters’ terror as mum is shot after family takes wrong turn into crime slum, published on 8 August 2017; and article headlined “Ex-Para hailed a hero for saving family as wife is shot, published on 9 August 2017.
2. The articles reported that the complainant was being treated in hospital having been shot while holidaying with her family in Brazil. It said that the family had entered a rough neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro because of a language mix-up while looking for water. A gang had told the family to leave the area, but they had not understood the request and the gang had then opened fire.
3. The complainant said that reporters had harassed her family while she was being treated in hospital and while they were all traumatised and in shock. She said the newspaper had also taken Facebook photographs and had published them without their consent. In addition, it had based its reports on inaccurate information given by the Brazilian police: the family had not driven into a rough neighbourhood because they were looking for water and had misunderstood directions given to them, and they had not misunderstood the instructions of the armed gang; in fact, the car’s sat-nav had misdirected them and the gang had not spoken to them at all.
4. The newspaper did not accept any breach of the Code. It said that its articles had been based on information given by the police; it had no reporters present in Brazil and it had made no attempt to question or photograph the family. The images it had published had been taken from a Facebook profile, which was open to the public. Given the complainant’s concern that the articles were inaccurate, it said that it would be happy to add a footnote to the online articles to clarify her version of events.
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.
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.
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. During IPSO’s investigation of the complaint, the newspaper offered to amend the online articles and to append the following correction:
An earlier version of this article reported that the family were shot at whist looking for a place to buy water. It said that they had been directed to a crime ridden slum due to a language mix up. The article further reported that the family had been asked to leave but did not understand what was being said to them. The earlier version was based on the local police’s version of events at the time. Mrs Dixon has now confirmed that this version was not correct as the family always travel with water in the car in a hot country and that it was the satellite navigation system in their hire car that directed them wrongly. She said that they did not speak to anyone.
8. The complainant accepted the newspaper’s offer as a resolution to her complaint.
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: 09/10/2017
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 07/02/2018
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