Resolution Statement – 19298-17 Lucy Wyman v Dorset Echo
Summary of complaint
1. Lucy Wyman complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Dorset Echo breached Clause 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined "Speed reductions for roads near Dorchester and Weymouth have been recommended for approval at a regulatory committee", published on 20 October 2017.
2. The article reported that Dorset County Council’s Regulatory Committee had voted to recommend reducing the speed limit on a road in Weymouth. It included a comment made by a representative for Dorset Highways, who had said that “the road had a history of collisions with seven accidents in the last five years, of which at least two were serious”. The article also included an image of the scene following a fatal road traffic accident.
3. The complainant said that her father was involved in the accident depicted in the image. She said that this image was initially published in 2013, and that she had complained to the newspaper at the time about its publication, and the conduct of the journalist and photographer involved. She expressed concern that the use of the image in the article implied that her father’s accident was a result of dangerous driving, which it was not. The complainant said that the re-publication of the image was in breach of Clause 4.
4. The newspaper apologised for any distress and upset caused to the complainant and her family. It said that the reporter who included the image in the article was a relatively new member of staff, and that he was unaware that the picture had previously been subject to a complaint. The newspaper said that once it was made aware of the complainant’s current complaint, it removed the image from the online article and marked it in its library with a note that it should not be re-published.
Relevant Code Provisions
5. 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. During IPSO’s investigation, the newspaper offered to publish the following apology on page 5 of the newspaper, and online:
“ON October 20 this year the Dorset Echo published a story headlined ‘Speed reductions for roads near Dorchester and Weymouth have been recommended for approval’. The picture used to illustrate the article was of an incident that took place on Osmington Hill in 2013. The driver had suffered a medical episode at the wheel and the incident was in no way related to speeding. We would like to apologise unreservedly to the family involved for the obvious distress that the use of this picture caused. And we acknowledge the distress that pictures of road accidents can cause to the families of those affected.”
8. The complainant said that this 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: 23/10/2017
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 15/12/2017
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