Resolution Statement 01689-17 A woman v Mail Online

    • Date complaint received

      8th June 2017

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      2 Privacy, 3 Harassment, 6 Children

Resolution Statement 01689-17 A woman v Mail Online

Summary of complaint

1. A woman complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Mail Online breached Clause 2 (Privacy), Clause 3 (Harassment) and Clause 6 (Children) in an article headlined “Schoolgirl, 12, is attacked by bullies who branded her a 's**g' and told her she had a 'fat a**' before dragging her to her floor and leaving her lying in a gutter”, published on 3 March 2017.

2. The article reported on a physical altercation involving two young females, and contained a 40 second video of the incident. The article reported that “A mother has shared distressing footage of a brutal attack that left her 12-year-old daughter lying in a gutter to raise awareness of violent school bullying”. The article reported that “the incident has been reported to West Yorkshire Police and the distressing footage has been shared more than 4,000 times on social media”.

3. The complainant, the mother of the alleged assailant in the incident, expressed concern that the publication of the video had breached her 15 year old daughter’s privacy, and noted that she had not given her consent for the video to be used in the article.

4. The newspaper said that the footage had been drawn to its attention by the family of the alleged victim. It noted that the footage had already been posted online by one of the individuals involved in the altercation, and it had been viewed more than 4,000 times.  It said that it had taken care to make sure that the complainant’s daughter had not been identifiable, by not naming her and by making sure that the video did not show her face.

Relevant Code provisions

5. 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.

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 6* (Children)

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

ii) They must not be approached or photographed at school without permission of the school authorities.

iii) Children under 16 must not be interviewed or photographed on issues involving their own or another child’s welfare unless a custodial parent or similarly responsible adult consents.

iv) Children under 16 must not be paid for material involving their welfare, nor parents or guardians for material about their children or wards, unless it is clearly in the child's interest.

v) Editors must not use the fame, notoriety or position of a parent or guardian as sole justification for publishing details of a child's private life.

Mediated outcome

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

7. During IPSO’s investigation of the complaint, the newspaper offered to remove the article.

8. The complainant said this would resolve her complaint 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: 04/03/2017
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 02/05/2017