Ruling

Resolution Statement – 04737-16 A woman v The Sun

    • Date complaint received

      3rd November 2016

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      10 Clandestine devices and subterfuge, 12 Discrimination, 2 Privacy

Resolution Statement – 04737-16 A woman v The Sun

Summary of Complaint

1. A woman complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Sun breached Clause 2 (Privacy), Clause 10 (Clandestine devices and subterfuge) and Clause 12 (Discrimination) in an article published by The Sun on 4 July. 

2. The article reported on a swingers festival. It was written from the point of a view of a journalist, who claimed to have attended the festival with a photographer, having “posed as a curious couple”. The article reported the journalist’s observations about the festival, including descriptions of the activities, and comments made by attendees.  The article was accompanied by a number of photographs of the event, which included photographs of attendees naked, partially naked and engaged in sex-acts.

3. The complainant said that she had attended the festival, which was a private gathering in which audio or visual recording devices were forbidden, and attendees were required to sign a form confirming they were not from the press. The complainant said that she featured in one of the photographs accompanying the article, which she considered was an intrusion in to her privacy. She said that the newspaper had attended the festival under false pretences and taken the photographs covertly. She said that the article contained inaccuracies about the festival, and that a group of consenting adults should be allowed to attend a private function, to pursue their lifestyle choice, without a newspaper trying to turn public opinion against them.

4. The newspaper said that reports on the previous year’s festival had claimed that nearby residents were concerned about the event. The newspaper said it believed an investigation of the festival was in the public interest, and that there had been no breach of the Code. 

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.

ii) 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.

Clause 12 (Discrimination) 

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

ii) Details of an individual's race, colour, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story.

Mediated Outcome

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

7.    Following IPSO’s intervention, the complaint 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: 08/07/2016
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 13/09/2016