Ruling

05240-15 A man v Daily Express

    • Date complaint received

      1st December 2015

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 3 Harassment

Decision of the Complaints Committee 05240-15 A man v Daily Express

Summary of complaint 

1. A man complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Daily Express breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 3 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article published in November 2014. 

2. The article reported that the complainant had been convicted of a number of assaults. 

3. The complainant identified what he believed to be a number of inaccuracies in relation to the statements of the victim in court. He complained that he had been pictured without his consent, in breach of Clause 3. The article had also referred to him having previously received an absolute discharge, following another offence, and he queried whether the newspaper could report the absolute discharge. 

4. The newspaper did not accept any breach of the Code. It said that all of the alleged inaccurate statements had been heard in court; as such, the newspaper was entitled to report them. It said that the article had made clear that they were heard in court, and in any case had correctly reported the specific charges of which the complainant was convicted. 

5. The newspaper said that the complainant had been photographed arriving at court to hear the verdict of the case. The photograph had been taken in a public place where the complainant had no reasonable expectation of privacy, and did not reveal any personal information about him, other than what he looked like. The newspaper also said that it was entitled to report an absolute discharge. 

Relevant Code Provisions

6. 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. 

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 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 in private places without their consent. Note – Private places are public or private property where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. 

Findings of the Committee

7. 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 article was an accurate report of court proceedings. There was no failure to take care over the accuracy of the article, and the Committee did not identify any significant inaccuracies which would require correction under the Code. 

8. 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. In addition, the newspaper was entitled to report the complainant receiving an absolute discharge, which was a matter of public record. There was no breach of Clause 3. 

Conclusions

9. The complaint was not upheld. 

Remedial Action Required

N/A 

Date complaint received: 18/08/2015

Date decision issued: 01/12/2015