Ruling

Resolution Statement 04222-16 A Woman v Peterborough Telegraph

    • Date complaint received

      27th October 2016

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 2 Privacy, 6 Children

Complaint 04222-16 A Woman v Peterborough Telegraph

Summary of complaint

1. A woman complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Peterborough Telegraph breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 6 (Children) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Council pays £5000 compensation”, published on 2 June 2016.

2. The article reported that Peterborough City Council had paid £5000 compensation in relation to two historical complaints regarding a child with special needs.

3. The complainant expressed concern that the newspaper had inaccurately reported details of the complaints she had made to the council, which related to her child, and had disclosed private details about her and her family without consent. The complainant said Peterborough City Council had accepted that it had misinformed the newspaper about the complaints, and the council contacted the newspaper directly and requested that it publish its letter to set the record straight. The newspaper published the letter, but the complainant said that it was given insufficient prominence, and the inaccurate article remained unchanged on the newspaper’s website. 

4. The newspaper said that it published the article based on information provided by Peterborough City Council. It had understood that the letter provided by the council was for publication, and was not an official complaint; as such, the online article was not amended and a correction was not published. When the complainant contacted the newspaper to express her concerns, it removed the online article and agreed to publish a follow-up article to make the correct position clear. It agreed the wording with the complainant before publication, and had understood that the matter was resolved. It also said that it would share the follow-up piece on social media in the same way that the original article had been promoted.

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.

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.

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 complainant considered that the follow-up article had not been shared on social media as promised, and the newspaper had not apologised for its failure to correct the inaccuracies promptly. As the complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties, IPSO began an investigation into the matter. 

7. The newspaper shared the follow-up article on social media. 

8. Although the complainant remained concerned that the follow-up article had not been shared in the first instance, she considered that the matter had been resolved.

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: 27/06/2016
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 10/10/2016