Resolution Statement – 19300-17 Prakodwong v Mail Online
Statement of Complaint
1. Peter Prakodwong complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Mail Online breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 2 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Man whose security camera captured half-naked drug addict injecting heroin outside his front door ‘was told to destroy the footage by council workers in case it embarrassed the woman’”, published on 24 October 2017.
2. The article reported
that a security camera hidden in the complainant’s doorbell had “captured a
half-naked drug addict injecting heroin outside his front door”. It said that
following the incident, an alert was sent to the complainant’s mobile phone; he
then “raced home, but the woman had already left the scene”. The article
reported that the complainant had uploaded the footage to his YouTube channel,
and then made and placed posters featuring still images from the video around
his building, “shaming the woman”. The article included an image of the poster,
which directed readers to the YouTube video.
3. The article reported that the hidden surveillance camera had recorded the woman’s reaction a few days later when she removed the posters; that the complainant had given all of the surveillance footage to the police; and that he was told to get rid of the footage and cameras by the council.
4. The article included the video of the woman allegedly injecting heroin and still images taken from the video; the video and images showed the complainant’s flat number. The article also included an image of the exterior of the complainant’s building, and made reference to the complainant’s road name, and other details about his address.
5. The complainant said that the article contained various inaccuracies. He said that he did not “race home” once he was alerted to the video footage, as he returned home around 36 hours later; that the woman removed the posters around 2 months after he had put them up; that he did not hand over all of the footage to the police; and that the council did not tell him to destroy the footage. The complainant also said that the article had intruded into his private life as it identified his full address.
6. The publication said that the complainant had approached a news agency with the story, and that the information included in the article was taken from this correspondence. It said that as such, it was not necessary to contact the complainant for his comment prior to publication. Furthermore, the publication did not accept that the article contained any significant inaccuracies. It said that any minor errors within the article were due to a misreading of the agency copy, and noted that it had amended the article and clarified the changes in a footnote to the article, in order to address the complainant’s concerns.
7. The publication did not accept that there had been a breach of Clause 2. It said that the complainant had provided the video for the purposes of publication and that he had already placed the video in the public domain, when he uploaded the video to his public YouTube channel. The publication noted that his flat number was visible in the video and that it had been viewed over 6,600 times.
Relevant Code Provisions
8. 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. In considering an individual's reasonable expectation of privacy, account will be taken of the complainant's own public disclosures of information and the extent to which the material complained about is already in the public domain or will become so.
iii) It is unacceptable to photograph individuals, without their consent, in public or private places where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.
9. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
10. During IPSO’s investigation, the publication pixelated the complainant’s flat number in the video and cropped the still image to remove this; removed the image of the exterior of the complainant’s building; removed the reference to the complainant’s road name; amended the headline to read “Man whose security camera captured half-naked drug addict injecting heroin outside his front door 'was told to remove cameras by council workers in case it embarrassed the woman'”. The publication also made various amendments to the text of the article, in order to address the complainant’s concerns under Clause 1, and added the following footnote to the article:
“An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the man who captured the footage was asked to destroy it when, in fact, he was asked to remove the cameras and cease filming”.
11. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to his satisfaction.
12. 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: 26/10/2017
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 09/01/2018
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