Ruling

04551-16 Representatives of Sophia Murray v Daily Mail

    • Date complaint received

      24th November 2016

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      2 Privacy, 3 Harassment, 6 Children

Decision to the Complaints Committee 04551-16 Representatives of Sophia Murray v Daily Mail

Summary of the complaint

1. Representatives of Sophia Murray complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Daily Mail breached Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 3 (Harassment) and Clause 6 (Children) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Mini Miss Murray, our new bawl girl!”, published 29  June 2016.

2. The article reported that Andy and Kim Murray’s four-month-old daughter, the complainant, had attended the Wimbledon tennis tournament for the first time. It was accompanied by two images of the complainant. One depicted Kim Murray pushing the complainant in a pram. The second image was a cropped version of the first image, such that the complainant was its only subject, and dominated the frame. In this image, the complainant was lying in a pram, such that her head was depicted at a low angle; her forehead, nose and one eye were visible. While the article appeared on page 5, the cropped image was published as the main image on the front page of the newspaper, with the headline: “New bawls please…it’s little Miss Murray”. The article reported that the complainant “spent her father’s match…snuggled up in the players’ complex creche”.

3. The complainant’s representatives said that the taking of a photograph of the complainant in a pram, without the knowledge or consent of her parents, and publication of the photograph in a national newspaper, was an intrusion into the complainant’s private and family life. They said that Mrs Murray was attending Wimbledon to support her husband, and that in order for her to most appropriately care for the complainant, as a nursing mother, she needed to take her young daughter with her.  The complainant’s representatives said that the newspaper’s actions interfered with the complainant’s right to be cared for in the manner deemed most appropriate by her parents, without being subject to photography, and that as a consequence of the photograph being published, arrangements were made for the complainant to be looked after at home, which disrupted her feeding arrangements.

4. The complainant’s representatives said that images of the complainant have not been released by her parents, who had made it clear to the newspaper that their clients objected to photographs of the complainant being taken and published. 

5. The complainant’s representatives said that the dissemination of a child’s otherwise unpublished image, against the express wishes of her parents, was likely to cause harm and distress. In addition, they said that publication of such material creates a market for intrusive photographs of their client, and encourages harassing conduct by paparazzi photographers. They said that when the complainant and her mother arrived and left Wimbledon that day, they were jostled and pushed by a group of unknown photographers. They said that in these circumstances, the taking and publication of the photographs constituted harassment.

6. The newspaper said that the complainant did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the circumstances in which the photographs were taken. It said that the complainant and her mother were arriving at one of the highest profile sporting events of the year via Gate 16, an entrance to the All England Club used by members of the media, players, and officials. It said that it was a pedestrian entrance, overlooked by an area which is designated for photographers to take pictures. The newspaper said that the complainant’s mother had been photographed arriving at Wimbledon via Gate 16 in previous years, and provided images of Venus Williams, Sir Cliff Richard and the complainant’s father arriving via this gate in the 40 minutes before the complainant and her mother arrived. The newspaper noted that the Wimbledon conditions of entry state that during the tournament, photography takes place in the Grounds, and that “by your presence at The Championships, you grant your permission, free of charge, for your image …to be included in pictures”.

7. The newspaper said that the photographer could not have known that the complainant was on her way to the crèche, but that this did not render her arrival at the grounds a private activity. It said that the complainant did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in places where photographers may be expected to be present, and the complainant’s mother had chosen to place the complainant in a situation in which it was plainly to be expected that they would be photographed. The newspaper said that the photograph did not engage any issue involving Sophia Murray’s welfare, nor did it reveal anything private about the child. The newspaper said that there were other gates at Wimbledon through which VIPs may enter the ground, including one where they can drive through without being photographed. It said that had the complainant’s parents wished to take steps to avoid her being photographed, they could have done so. 

8. The newspaper said that the photographer who took the photograph was accredited to the Wimbledon Tournament, and was standing in a position photographers are permitted to be. It said that the photographer had no prior knowledge of the complainant’s arrival. It said that during the incident, the photographer did not change position, and maintained a distance of approximately 50m from the gate. The newspaper said that the Wimbledon’s Photographer Liaison Office had reviewed a complaint from the complainant, and confirmed they had no concerns about the conduct of the photographer. The newspaper denied that any journalist working for or on behalf of the newspaper had engaged in harassment, intimidation or persistent pursuit of the complainant.

9. The complainant’s representatives said that before the photograph was taken, and in response to Kim Murray’s concern that her daughter not be photographed, Wimbledon had specifically suggested that they use Gate 16 as it would be quiet and free from problems. The complainant’s representatives said that Gate 16 is described by Wimbledon as a “private and contractors” entrance, and said that the photographer was not in an approved position. They said it was flawed to suggest that the complainant’s parents are required to go to extraordinary lengths to avoid the complainant being photographed, and said that relatives of players and other VIPs are not in fact permitted to be driven within the grounds.

Relevant Code Provisions

10. 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 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 source.

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 

11. Whether an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy is highly sensitive to the facts of a case. In this instance, the complainant was a very young child. She could not be described as a public figure, and neither had her parents sought publicity for her. In addition, she was, at the time she was photographed, being taken by her mother, in a pram, to the Wimbledon crèche. The complainant’s representatives explained that, as a consequence of the publication of the photograph under complaint, the complainant’s mother had made the decision that those childcare arrangements had to be changed. All these factors supported the complainant’s representative’s position that the complainant had enjoyed a reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to the taking and publication of the photograph.

12. At the same time, the complainant was being taken by her mother through a press entrance to Wimbledon; a major sporting event where there would inevitably be a very large number of spectators and photographers. While the gate used by the complainant was not a ticket-holders’ entrance, it was accepted that it was a public location, and it appeared that photographers were allowed to stand in a position overlooking the gate. Photographers had taken photographs of the complainant’s mother and other well-known individuals entering via this gate in previous years, and the Committee noted that the photographer who took the photographs subject to this complaint had taken a number of other photographs of people entering via this gate on the same morning; there was no suggestion that the photographer had targeted, or sought-out the complainant.

13. At the time of the photography, the complainant was simply being pushed in a pram, and while the Committee accepted that this showed her engaged in a family activity relating to her care, that activity was relatively unremarkable. Furthermore, as a result of the complainant’s age, and the fact that her face was only partially visible, the Committee did not consider that the complainant was recognisable from the photograph published by the newspaper, or that it disclosed any identifying or private information about her.

14. Having regard for all these factors, the Committee concluded that the nature of the photograph and circumstances and location in which it was taken meant that the complainant did not, at that time, enjoy a reasonable expectation of privacy. As such, neither the taking nor publication of the photograph breached Clause 2. The Committee emphasised that this finding was highly specific to the circumstances of this case, and particularly the fact that these photographs were taken within the grounds of Wimbledon during The Championships.

15. The photographs subject to this complaint were taken without the knowledge of the complainant’s mother, and there was therefore no suggestion that the photographer had continued to photograph the complainant after being asked to desist, or that the photographer’s behaviour had otherwise harassed the complainant.

16. The Committee did not consider that the act of publication of the photograph, in the circumstances, constituted harassment under the terms of Clause 3. Clause 3 generally relates to the conduct of journalists in the news gathering process; publication of information would only represent a course of conduct such as to represent harassment under the terms of Clause 3 in exceptional circumstances. The Committee did not consider that the newspaper’s publication of the photograph was such a case, and this aspect of the complaint did not raise a breach of Clause 3.

17. The information the photographs contained about the complainant, her arrival at Wimbledon, or being pushed in a pram on her way to the Wimbledon crèche were not issues involving her welfare, such that consent for the photograph from a parent was required under Clause 6 (iii). The Committee did not establish that the newspaper had published details of the complainant’s private life, such as to require justification. As such, there was no breach of Clause 6 (v). There was no breach of Clause 6.

Conclusions

18. The complaint was not upheld.

Remedial action required

19. N/A

Received: 29/06/2016
Concluded:  28/10/2016