Resolution Statement – 19034-17 Neta v The Argus (Brighton)

Decision: Resolved - IPSO mediation

Resolution Statement – 19034-17 Neta v The Argus (Brighton) 

1.   Porfiria Neta complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Argus (Brighton) breached Clause 2 (Privacy), Clause 3 (Harassment) and Clause 9 (Reporting of crime) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Sound engineer Stephen McIntyre jailed for making Jo Cox death threat at Worthing polling station”, published on 9 November 2017.  

2.   The article reported on the complainant’s husband’s conviction for using threatening and abusive words and behaviour, with intent to cause fear of unlawful violence. The article contained a photograph of the complainant’s husband as he left court; the complainant was shown accompanying him.   

3.   The complainant said that she had been identified, without her consent, in an article which she had no genuine relevance to. She said the publication of her photograph was an intrusion into her privacy, and had amounted to harassment. 

4.   The newspaper did not accept a breach of the Code. It said that the photograph was taken in public place outside of court; it do not accept that the complainant had any reasonable expectation of privacy in the place and circumstances in which the picture was taken. It said that she must have known, or reasonably ought to have known, she would be seen in public and was likely to be photographed by the press.

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 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.

Clause 9 (Reporting of Crime)

i) Relatives or friends of persons convicted or accused of crime should not generally be identified without their consent, unless they are genuinely relevant to the story.

ii) Particular regard should be paid to the potentially vulnerable position of children who witness, or are victims of, crime. This should not restrict the right to report legal proceedings.

Mediated Outcome

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 pixelate the photograph so that the complainant was no longer visible. 

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: 17/10/2017

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 22/11/2017

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