Resolution Statement 01558-17 Albert v Mail Online

    • Date complaint received

      14th September 2017

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 10 Clandestine devices and subterfuge, 2 Privacy, 3 Harassment, 4 Intrusion into grief or shock

Resolution Statement 01558-17 Albert v Mail Online

1. Lauren Albert complained on behalf of her father, Jimmy White, that Mail Online breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) Clause 2 (Privacy) Clause 3 (Harassment) Clause 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock) and Clause 10 (Clandestine devices and subterfuge) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “First pictures show devastation inside snooker ace Jimmy White’s £500,000 flat which burned down destroying everything he owns except his cue”, published on 1 February 2017.

2. The article showed photographs of the inside of the complainant’s father’s flat, shortly after a fire. The article reported that following the fire, the complainant’s father had travelled abroad, and reported that a neighbour had criticised him for this.

3. The complainant said that the publication of the photographs of the inside of the flat, which included personal possessions, represented an intrusion into her father’s privacy. She said that she had to tell photographers to leave the private building twice on the evening of the fire, and that the following day, they harassed neighbours, in breach of Clause 3. She said that the publication of the images was an intrusion into her personal grief or shock, and that the publication had used the photographs without proper permission. The complainant said that it was inaccurate to report that her father had travelled abroad.

4. The publication said that while a photographer acting on its behalf had attended the scene, it had actually been provided with the photographs of the inside of the flat by a neighbour. The publication said that the photographer it was responsible for was not the same photographer the complainant had to tell to leave the private building on the evening of the fire. 

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. 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 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.

ii) They must not persist in questioning, telephoning, pursuing or photographing individuals once asked to desist; nor remain on property when asked to leave and must not follow them. If requested, they must identify themselves and whom they represent.

iii)  Editors must ensure these principles are observed by those working for them and take care not to use non-compliant material from other sources.

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 10 (Clandestine devices and subterfuge)

i) The press must not seek to obtain or publish material acquired by using hidden cameras or clandestine listening devices; or by intercepting private or mobile telephone calls, messages or emails; or by the unauthorised removal of documents or photographs; or by accessing digitally-held information without consent.

ii) Engaging in misrepresentation or subterfuge, including by agents or intermediaries, can generally be justified only in the public interest and then only when the material cannot be obtained by other means

Mediated outcome

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

7.Following IPSO’s intervention, the publication offered to send the complainant and her father a letter of regret, apologising for the distress the publication of the images of the flat had caused.  The publication also offered to make a donation to the local fire station’s charity of choice.

8. The complainant said that this resolved 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: 23/02/2017
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 14/06/2017