Ruling

05056-15 A man v Daily Record

    • Date complaint received

      1st December 2015

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 11 Victims of sexual assault, 3 Harassment, 5 Reporting suicide

·   Decision of the Complaints Committee 05056-15 A man v Daily Record 

Summary of complaint

1. A man complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Daily Record breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 3 (Privacy), Clause 5 (Intrusion into grief or shock) and Clause 11 (Victims of sexual assault) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in a series of articles published in 2014 and 2015. 

2. Some of the articles were court reports about the complainant’s convictions for assault; some were interviews with the victim, following the complainant’s conviction; and some reported on other elements of the complainant’s life. 

3. A number of the articles made reference to an allegation of assault made by the complainant against his victim. The complainant said - in his complaint to IPSO - that this assault had been of a sexual nature; to identify him in relation to it was a breach of Clause 11. 

4. The complainant identified what he believed to be a number of inaccuracies in relation to the statements of the victim in court; the reporting of his age; and the claims his victim had made in the interviews. He also said that the newspaper repeatedly published a photograph of him which had an inaccurate caption. 

5. The complainant also said that he had been pictured without his consent, in breach of Clause 3. One of the articles reported that the complainant had appeared in court facing a charge which was not pursued. The complainant said that, as he was innocent of the crime, the article was an intrusion into his grief, in breach of Clause 5. 

6. The newspaper said that the complainant’s victim had never been charged with a sexual assault, and the assault allegation had been made by the complainant’s barrister in open court. 

7. The newspaper did not accept that the article contained the inaccuracies alleged by the complainant. If it had misreported his age, that would not be significant under the terms of Clause 1. The photographs of the complainant had either been taken outside the court room, which was a public place, or had been provided to the newspaper by a person known to the complainant. The photographs did not breach Clause 3. 

8. The complainant confirmed that his victim had never been charged with a sexual assault. He also did not dispute that his contact with IPSO was the first time he had raised concerns that he had been a victim of a sexual assault. 

Relevant Code Provisions

9. Clause 1 (Accuracy) 

i) The press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures. 

ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and – where appropriate – an apology published. 

iii) The press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact. 

Clause 3 (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 individuals’ private life without consent. Account will be taken of the complainant’s own public disclosures of information. 

iii) It is unacceptable to photograph individuals in private places without their consent. Note – Private places are public or private property where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. 

Clause 5 (Intrusion into grief or shock) 

i) In cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries and approaches must be made with sympathy and discretion and publication handled sensitively. This should not restrict the right to report legal proceedings, such as inquests. 

Clause 11 (Victims of sexual assault) 

The press must not identify victims of sexual assault or publish material likely to contribute to such identification unless there is adequate justification and they are legally free to do so. 

Findings of the Committee

10. The complainant did not dispute that he had not previously raised concerns that he was a victim of sexual assault, prior to contacting IPSO. At the time of publication of the article no allegation of sexual assault had been made. The article did not identify the complainant as a victim or alleged victim of sexual assault; there was no breach of Clause 11. 

11. The newspaper’s obligation was to report accurately what was heard in court; it was not required to independently investigate the accuracy of those statements. The articles were accurate reports of court proceedings. There was no failure to take care over the accuracy of the statements, and a correction was not required. Further statements made by the complainant’s victim in interviews were clearly distinguished as the victim’s opinion. If one of the articles had inaccurately reported the complainant’s age, that would not constitute a significant inaccuracy which would require correction under the Code. Similarly, the alleged inaccuracy in relation to the photograph caption would not constitute a significant inaccuracy. There was no breach of Clause 1. 

12. The newspaper was entitled to photograph the complainant outside the courtroom, so long as in doing so it did not breach any of the clauses of the Editors’ Code. The complainant had no reasonable expectation of privacy in this location, and the published photograph did not reveal any private information about him. The photographs provided by the person known to the complainant did not reveal any private information about him, nor had they been obtained in a way which intruded into his privacy. There was no breach of Clause 3. 

13. The newspaper reporting that the complainant had appeared in court did not engage the terms of Clause 5. 

Conclusions

14. The complaint was not upheld. 

Remedial Action Required

N/A 

Date complaint received: 18/08/2015

Date decision issued: 01/12/2015