01905-19 Forbes v

    • Date complaint received

      4th July 2019

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 2 Privacy, 6 Children

Decision of the Complaints Committee 01905-19 Forbes v

Summary of complaint

1. Gordon Forbes complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 6 (Children) of the Editors' Code of Practice in an article headlined "Bighearted six-year-old doing sponsored walk raising funds to build toilets in Bangladeshi school" published on 1 March 2019.

2. The article reported that a child, the complainant's son, was doing a sponsored walk in a bid to raise funds to build a sanitation block at a school in Bangladesh. The article featured photographs of the child and included his age and the area where he lived. The article featured comments from the child's stepfather explaining the child's motivation and praising his efforts.

3. The complainant, the child's father, said the article was inaccurate, as the man, reported to be the child's stepfather, was not his stepfather. The complainant said that the article breached the terms of Clause 6, as he had parental responsibility for his son and he had not consented to the publication of the article or the photographs. The complainant did not believe that the article's publication was in his son's best interests.

4. The complainant also said that the article intruded into his son's privacy in breach of Clause 2, as it featured photographs taken by the man, which he did not have permission to share.

5. The publication denied any breach of the Code. It provided a statement from the child's mother confirming that she consented to the article's publication and the inclusion of the photographs. The statement also confirmed that the man was her partner.

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 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.

Findings of the Committee

7. A custodial parent had consented to the publication of the information in the article and the inclusion of the photographs; the publication did not need consent from both parents. There was no breach of Clause 6 or Clause 2.

8. Further, the complainant accepted that the man referred to in the article was in a relationship with the mother of the child. In these circumstances it was not significantly inaccurate for the article to refer to him as the child’s stepfather. There was no breach of Clause 1 on this point.


9. The complaint was not upheld

Remedial action required

10. N/A

Date complaint received: 01/03/2019
Date decision issued: 25/05/2019