Decision of the Complaints Committee – 28287-20 Yvonne
and David Lyons v The Scottish Sun
Summary of Complaint
1. Yvonne and David Lyons complained to the Independent
Press Standards Organisation that The Scottish Sun breached Clause 1
(Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 9 (Reporting of crime) of the
Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “MOB BOSS NOT LYON LOW!”,
published on 28 September 2020.
2. The article reported on “new snaps” of a “crime clan
chief”, who it also described as a “crime clan boss”. It stated that the man’s
“family has been embroiled in a brutal drugs war… for almost 20 years”. It was
reported that the man was “with relatives as he’s pictured in his first snaps
for almost five years” and that the photos were taken with “uncle David Lyons,
and a woman”. The article featured images of the man named as the crime boss,
two of which showed him with an arm around another person. One of the images
showed him with an arm around a man, and the other with his arm around a woman
whose face had been blurred out. The man in the image was identifiable, and he
was named under the image as “uncle David”. The article also said that shots
had been fired at “uncle David’s” garage 14 years ago. The woman whose face was
blurred was not named.
3. The article also appeared online under the headline “NOT
LYON LOW Scots crime boss Steven Lyons poses with relatives as he’s pictured in
first snaps for almost five years”, which was published on 27 September 2020
and was substantially the same.
4. The complainants, the two people in the photographs
alongside the man who was the subject of the article, said that the article was
inaccurate in breach of Clause 1, as the images had been taken in 2014. They
said it was therefore inaccurate to describe the images as either “new” or the
first images to be taken of the man in five years, as they were over six years
old at the time of publication.
5. The complainants also stated that by reporting that the
man‘s “family has been embroiled in a brutal drugs war” and then going on to
name one of the complainants as an “uncle” of the man, the article had given
the misleading impression that he was guilty of, or involved in, criminal
6. The complainants also said that the article breached
Clause 9, as it identified them, particularly the man who was photographed and
named, without their consent as a relative of someone accused of crime. They
acknowledged that the man had been named as involved in a shooting in 2006 and
was relevant to that story, but stated that he was not relevant to the current
7. The complainants also said that the publication of their
images was a breach of their privacy. The images had been taken in a public
place outside of a restaurant. One of the complainants accepted that the images
had been on her Facebook page, however she stated that her Facebook was set to
private and she had not used either image as a profile picture or cover photo.
8. The publication accepted that the article had been
written in a way that may mislead readers into believing that the photos were
new. It said that the intention had been to characterise the two images under
complaint as “new” not because they were taken recently, but because they were
the first new photographs of the man that had been seen in almost five years.
The publication deleted the article from its online platform and offered to
publish the following in the print corrections and clarifications column on
page 2, and on the online corrections and clarifications column:
On 28th September 2020 we published photographs of Steven
Lyons which we said were “new”. We wish to clarify that the photographs were
the first new photographs of Steven Lyons seen in almost five years. We did not
mean to imply the photographs were taken recently.
9. The publication said that the article did not give the
impression that either of the complainants was involved in crime. It said that
the wider family named in the article were well known gangsters and that it
could not reasonably be inferred that the article was referring to the named
10. The publication also stated that Clause 9 was not
breached. It said that the complainants were genuinely relevant to the story as
the story was about the photographs. It said that, in addition, the unnamed
complainant’s image was blurred, and that the named complainant was named and
left unblurred as he had received previous publicity in relation to the family,
including that a shooting took place in his garage, as reported in the article.
It said that the garage had also been targeted in an arson attack. The
publication provided a non-exhaustive list of thirteen other articles which
referred to this relationship. These articles also reported that the man in the
article was shot at the named complainant’s business, that a fire which had
taken place at this garage was treated as suspicious, and also reported on a legal
case by the named defendant, in which he lost a defamation case against the
police for alleged links to crime.
11. The publication did not accept that Clause 2 had been
breached. It said it had not taken the image from the complainant’s private
Facebook page. It that the images were in the public domain as it had been sent
the images by two separate sources. The first source told the newspaper that
the images had been shared on multiple occasions, including in ‘group chats’
with multiple occupants. The second source said they had been sent them by
several people at different times as if they were doing the rounds and being
shared by text and on group chats. The newspaper said that it had asked, but
had not received specific information about the number of times the photos had
been shared, or among exactly how many people, but that both sources had said
that the photographs had been shared widely.
Relevant Code Provisions
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.
iii) A fair opportunity to reply to significant inaccuracies
should be given, when reasonably called for.
iv) The Press, while free to editorialise and campaign, must
distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.
Clause 2 (Privacy)*
i) Everyone is entitled to respect for private and family
life, home, physical and mental health, and correspondence, including digital
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.
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 under the age of 18 who witness, or are victims
of, crime. This should not restrict the right to report legal proceedings.
iii) Editors should generally avoid naming children under
the age of 18 after arrest for a criminal offence but before they appear in a
youth court unless they can show that the individual’s name is already in the
public domain, or that the individual (or, if they are under 16, a custodial
parent or similarly responsible adult) has given their consent. This does not
restrict the right to name juveniles who appear in a crown court, or whose
anonymity is lifted.
Findings of the Committee
12. The article had stated that the images were “new” and
were the “first snaps for almost five years” of the man in the article. The
publication said that it had meant that they were the first images that it had
seen of the man, but acknowledged that it could have been inferred that the
images were taken recently, and supplied no evidence to contradict this. The
Committee noted that the headline “Not Lyon low” also added to the sense that
the article was describing a current situation, reflected in the photos. Where
the article had not clearly set out the basis for why it had characterised the
images as “new”, and that the characterisation was not clear and could
reasonably be misinterpreted by the average reader, the publication had failed
to take care not to publish misleading information and there was a breach of
Clause 1(i). As the misleading information concerned the main thrust of the
article, and misled the reader about the images the article was about, this was
a significant inaccuracy which required correction under Clause 1(ii).
13. The publication offered a clarification at the first
instance it received the complaint from the complainant, and therefore was
offered promptly. The offered clarification put the correct position on record
and was offered to be published in the print and online corrections and
clarifications column, which represented appropriate prominence. There was no
breach of Clause 1(ii).
14. When considering Clause 9, the Committee considered the
position for both complainant’s separately. With regards to the complainant
whose photo was anonymised and who was unnamed in the article, it found that,
as she was not identified, Clause 9 was not engaged.
15. Clause 9 was, however, engaged with regards to the
complainant who was named and who was identified within the photograph. The
Committee noted that there was a significant amount of information already in
the public domain which linked the complainant to the man in the article. In
2006 it was well publicized that his garage was the scene of an attack where
three men, including the man he was photographed with, was shot. In addition,
the complainant had brought a significant court case against the police, which
linked him to the man. In these circumstances, where the named complainant was
of genuine relevance to the story relating to the man’s alleged criminal
activity and the photographs of him and the man, because of the incident at the
complainant’s garage and the court case, which he had been publicly identified
in relation to, there was no breach of Clause 9.
16. Clause 2 states that everyone is entitled to respect for
their private and family life, including digital communications. The
complainants had said that the images were only on a personal Facebook page,
with strict privacy settings, which the newspaper did not dispute. However, the
publication stated that it had not received the images from the complainant’s
Facebook page, but that they had been provided by two separate individuals who
said that the images had been shared with them in group messages. In these
circumstances, IPSO was not able to determine that the photos had been taken
17. The Committee considered that the images did not contain
information about which the complainants had a reasonable expectation of
privacy because they only showed posed photos of the complainants in a public
place. One of the complainants had been anonymised in the photo so could not be
identified. The other person’s relationship with his nephew was already in the
public domain (as identified in the paragraph above relating to Clause 9), and
so the photo could not be revealing new private information about their
association. Because the Committee found that the images did not contain any
private information, the complainants did not have a reasonable expectation of
privacy over the images and therefore there was no breach of Clause 2.
18. The complaint was upheld under Clause 1(i).
Remedial Action Required
19. The correction which was offered clearly put the correct
position on record, and was offered promptly and with due prominence, and
should now be published.
Date complaint received: 28/09/2020
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 10/05/2021
Independent Complaints Reviewer
The complainant complained to the Independent Complaints Reviewer about the process followed by IPSO in handling this complaint. The Independent Complaints Reviewer decided that the process was not flawed and did not uphold the request for review.Back to ruling listing