Ruling

Resolution Statement: Complaint 02617-15 Changing Faces v Daily Express

    • Date complaint received

      29th July 2015

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      12 Discrimination

Resolution Statement: Complaint 02617-15 Changing Faces v Daily Express 

Summary of complaint

1. Dr James Partridge complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, on behalf of Changing Faces, that the Daily Express had published an online article, headlined “39 of the world’s worst mugshots”, on 8 April 2015, which raised a breach of Clause 12 (Discrimination) of the Editors’ Code of Practice. Changing Faces is a charity which represents and supports people with conditions or marks which affect their appearance. 

2. The article was a photographic slideshow, and some of the photographs depicted people with facial disfigurements. The complainant expressed concern that the images and accompanying captions sought to ridicule those individuals pictured. Specifically, he was concerned that the slideshow included prejudicial and pejorative references to individuals’ physical illnesses or disabilities, in breach of the Editors’ Code. 

3. IPSO considered the complaint from Changing Faces as a complaint from a representative group, in line with the provisions in IPSO’s regulations. 

4. The newspaper had removed the slideshow from its website, prior to IPSO notifying it of the complaint. It later published the following apology online:  

An apology following a complaint from Changing Faces 

On the 8 April 2015 we published an article entitled “39 of the world’s worst mug shots” which depicted individuals that have unusual appearances, including those that are a result of medical injuries or conditions. Following a complaint from Changing Faces, the article was removed. We accept that the article was in poor taste and we apologise for any offence it may have caused. 

5. The newspaper also agreed to forward to its website journalists Changing Faces’ guidelines on reporting issues of facial disfigurements. 

Relevant Code Provisions

6. Clause 12 (Discrimination) 

i) The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability. 

Mediated outcome

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

8. The newspaper circulated notification of the complaint to all editorial staff, along with Changing Faces’ guidelines. 

9. The complainant said that removal of the article, the published apology, and the circulation of the charity’s guidelines resolved the matter to the charity’s satisfaction. 

10. 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: 09/04/2015

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 29/07/2015