Resolution Statement 20878-17 Parsons v

Decision: Resolved - IPSO mediation

Resolution Statement 20878-17 Parsons v

Summary of complaint

1. Debra Parsons complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy), Clause 3 (Harassment), Clause 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock) and Clause 6 (Children) in an article headlined “’I will eat mum on Christmas Day’: Grieving daughter to sprinkle mother’s ashes on turkey and pudding dinner,” published on 16 December 2017.

2. The article was an interview with the complainant, where she discussed how she intended to spend her first Christmas after the death of her mother. The article reported on the complainant’s grieving process and stated that Christmas was a difficult time for her, as her son who had also died, was born at Christmastime. The article included photographs of the complainant with her mum’s ashes in a Christmas setting.

3. The complainant said that the article was not an accurate account of what she had told the journalist. She said that although the journalist had checked several quotations with her prior to publication, she had not agreed to the headline or sub-headline of the article, which she believed were inaccurate. She also said that the date her son’s birth had been inaccurately reported in the article.

4. The complainant said that the reaction to the article on social media, and its syndication by other outlets was a breach of her privacy and constituted harassment. She said the effect this had had on her and her children was an intrusion into their grief and shock and had affected her children.

5. The publication did not accept that it had breached the Code. It provided messages between the journalist and the complainant which it said supported all the claims that were made in the article, including the headline. Regardless, when the complainant had contacted the journalist after publication, she had offered to make alterations to the article, which the complainant had not accepted. The publication did not believe the article was insensitive and said it was not responsible for other outlets reproducing the article.

Relevant Code provisions

6. 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.

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.

Clause 6 (Children) *

i) All pupils should be free to complete their time at school without unnecessary intrusion.

Mediated outcome

7. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.

8. During IPSO’s investigation, the publication requested that the images used in the article not be republished or syndicated and altered details about the complainant’s son in the article.

9. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to her satisfaction.

10. 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: 22/12/2017
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 07/02/2018

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