Resolution Statement: 00439-16 A man v Mail Online

    • Date complaint received

      23rd June 2016

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 2 Privacy, 4 Intrusion into grief or shock

Resolution Statement: 00439-16 A man v Mail Online

Summary of Complaint

1. A man complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Mail Online breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 4 (Intrusion into Grief or Shock) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article published in January 2016.

2.The article reported the inquest into the death of the complainant’s daughter in a road traffic accident. It was accompanied by a photograph of the complainant leaving the inquest, and photographs of the complainant’s daughter.

3.The complainant said that the photograph of him leaving the inquest was taken without his knowledge, and after he had refused a request to take a photograph from a journalist who approached him. The complainant said that the photograph was not taken by a photographer, but was taken by the journalist.  He said that the photographs of his daughter were private photographs which were taken from his Facebook, and used without his permission. He said that the article represented an intrusion in to his grief. The complainant said that the article contained inaccuracies.

4. The publication said that the article was based on information from the inquest. It said that the complainant was approached immediately after the proceedings by an agency reporter to ask if he wanted to comment or pose for a photograph, but that the complainant declined on both counts. The newspaper said that the photograph was taken moments later by an agency photographer situated opposite the court, but who may not have been seen by the complainant. The newspaper said that the photograph was taken in a public place outside court, where the complainant did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. The publication accepted that the article was inaccurate on one point, and removed this aspect of the article. It said that the photographs of the complainant’s daughter were taken from a publicly accessible Facebook page - some of which had previously been published - but removed them from the article in response to the complaint.

Relevant Code Provisions

5. 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.

iii) A fair opportunity to reply to significant inaccuracies must 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 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 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 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. After further correspondence, and in conjunction with a separate complaint about a sister publication, the publication offered to resolve the matter privately between the parties, including writing him a private letter of regret, the removal of  the photograph of him from the article and a donation to a charity of the complainant’s choice.

8. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to his 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: 28/01/2016
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 20/04/2016