Ruling

03290-16 McInally v North Norfolk News

    • Date complaint received

      13th October 2016

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      6 Children

Decision of the Complaints Committee 03290-16 McInally v North Norfolk News

Summary of complaint

1. Charmain McInally complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the North Norfolk News breached Clause 6 (Children) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Children enjoy super end to the school holidays”, published on 25 February 2016.

2. The article reported on a “comic-book hero” party organised by a local nursery. It was accompanied by a number of photographs of children who attended the party, including one of the complainant’s two children.

3. The complainant said that while her children did not attend the nursery, she did accompany them to the party in question during the February half-term break. She said that she was unaware that their photograph had been taken at the event, and had not given consent for it to be published. She also said that the print of the photograph of her children was then sold by the newspaper to an estranged relative of hers; she said that it was unacceptable for the newspaper to sell prints of young children to the general public without any checks being undertaken. 

4. The newspaper denied that Clause 6 had been breached. It said that Norfolk County Council has a policy which ensures that children with safeguarding issues are not photographed at any event that could involve media coverage. It said that while it was sorry that the complainant was unaware that photographs were being taken at the event, it had been invited by the nursery to attend and had not, in line with the policy, been alerted by the nursery to any individuals it should not photograph. The newspaper said that families often wanted to buy photographs that had been published in newspapers, and could not remember a situation where this had been problematic in the past. However, while it did not believe the sale of the prints engaged Clause 6, it said it understood why the complainant was unhappy for the photograph to have been sold to a third party, and had deleted it from the newspaper’s archives. 

Relevant Code Provisions

5. 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.

Findings of the Committee

6. The terms of Clause 6 state that children must not be photographed at school without permission of the school authorities, or photographed about issues involving their own or another child’s welfare unless a custodial parent or similarly responsible adult consents; it also says that pupils should be free to complete their time at school without unnecessary intrusion. In this case, the photograph of the complainant’s children was taken at a “comic-book hero” party at the local community centre which the newspaper had been invited by the nursery to attend and photograph; it did not concern an issue involving the children’s welfare, or intrude into their time at school. In addition, the photograph of the children was taken at a public venue; they were not engaged in any private activity, and in this particular set of circumstances, they did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. There was no breach of the Code.

7. While the Committee noted the complainant’s unhappiness with the newspaper having sold photographs of her children without permission, this was a commercial transaction separate from the newspaper’s publication of editorial content. It did not engage the Code, and did not fall within IPSO’s remit.   

Conclusions

8. The complaint was not upheld.

Remedial Action Required

N/A

Date complaint received: 3/06/2016
Date decision issued: 27/09/2016