Resolution Statement – Complaint 04659-16 A Man v Mail Online

    • Date complaint received

      2nd February 2017

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      10 Clandestine devices and subterfuge, 2 Privacy

Resolution Statement – 04659-16 A Man v Mail Online

Summary of Complaint 

1.    A man complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Mail Online breached Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 10 (Clandestine devices and subterfuge) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “The Glastonbury of the ‘alternative lifestyle’: Hundreds enjoy the UK’s biggest swingers’ festival in secret location in Wales”, published on 3 July 2016. 

2.    The article reported that “more than 700 people” had attended a “swingers festival”, hosted over three days in Wales. The article was accompanied by a number photographs of the event, in which attendees’ faces had been pixelated.

3.    The complainant said that he was featured in one of the published photographs, which he said was taken without his knowledge and consent. He said that the photographs were taken covertly, and that the photographer and reporter had gained access to the event by deception.  The complainant also raised concern that there had been aerial photography of the event. 

4.    The publication said that the photographer who took the photographs in the article did not gain access to the event by deception, but took the photographs while standing on an open public footpath. The publication said that the complainant’s face had been pixelated, and that he was not identifiable in the photographs.   

Relevant Code Provisions 

5. 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 10 (Clandestine devices and subterfuge) 

i) The press must not seek to obtain or publish material acquired by using hidden cameras or clandestine listening devices; or by intercepting private or mobile telephone calls, messages or emails; or by the unauthorised removal of documents or photographs; or by accessing digitally-held information without consent. 

i) Engaging in misrepresentation or subterfuge, including by agents or intermediaries, can generally be justified only in the public interest and then only when the material cannot be obtained by other means.

Mediated Outcome 

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

7.    Following IPSO’s intervention, the publication offered to remove the article, and the matter was settled privately between the parties. 

8.    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: 06/07/2016

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 22/08/2016