05642-18 Williams v

    • Date complaint received

      31st January 2019

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 2 Privacy

Decision of the Complaints Committee 05642-18 Williams v

Summary of complaint

1. Rosie Williams complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 2 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined: “The secret behind Love Island Rosie's changing face REVEALED”, published on 16 August 2018.

2. The article reported on cosmetic treatments which the complainant, a contestant on the 2018 reality TV programme Love Island, had received from a named “leading cosmetic expert”; a 27 second video clip of the complainant receiving nonsurgical dermal filler from this doctor accompanied the piece. The article reported comments which the doctor had made to the publication; the article claimed that the doctor “often has to convince Rosie not to go too over-the-top”, and quoted her as saying, “I’ve always wanted to do more subtle improvements. She kind of likes this more overdone look”; “because she’s a younger woman, Rosie can carry off a ‘fuller lip’”.

3. The complainant said that the article had disclosed private conversations which had taken place within a doctor and patient scenario, without her consent. The complainant said she had a right for the publication to approach her for comment prior to publication, particularly given the medical nature of the story. The complainant further said that the article, including the headline, was misleading in breach of Clause 1: her face was not constantly changing, nor did it need to be “revealed” to anyone; she had never been encouraged by the doctor “not to go too over-the-top”, nor had she been encouraged to undertake “more subtle improvements”, or tone down her look.

4. The publication did not accept a breach of the Code and said that similar information disclosed in the article had been previously widely shared on social media with the complainant’s knowledge and consent.

5. The publication noted that the complainant had posted “glamorous” images of her lifestyle to her Instagram account since July 2016, and had continued to do so following her appearance on Love Island.  As part of that lifestyle, the publication said that the complainant had received treatment from the doctor named in the article, and had consented for videos and pictures of her receiving that treatment to be placed on the doctor’s public Instagram account.  The publication said that it understood that the complainant had received a discount on the cost of the treatment provided by the doctor in recognition of the fact that the doctor would be free to highlight on social media that the complainant had gone to her for treatment. The publication said that the fact of this commercial relationship meant that it was reasonable for the doctor to talk about treatments she gave to the complaint, including the nature of the treatment, and to offer her opinions on it.

6. The publication provided a selection of the doctor’s Instagram posts, which showed the complainant receiving non-surgical cosmetic treatments, which included the video which had been published in the article. The publication noted that the captions to these posts had disclosed the type of treatment the complainant had received, the purpose of these treatments, to “give volume” and a “fresh and defined” face to the treated area, as well as the doctor’s opinions, “just the most subtle touches can give you that extra bit of ‘wow’”.

7. The publication did not accept that the article was misleading in its content, or the manner in which it had been presented. It said that the article was clearly based on an interview given by the doctor to the publication, in which the doctor had given her opinions on the complainant’s treatments, including the claim that the complainant liked a more “overdone look”. The publication said that as the information contained in the article was already in the public domain, it was under no obligation to contact the complainant for comment.

8. The complainant accepted that she had consented for the doctor to use images of her on her social media, but said that this did not amount to consent for the doctor to speak publicly about her private treatments.

Relevant Code provisions

9. Clause 1 (Accuracy)

i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text.

ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and — where appropriate — an apology published. In cases involving IPSO, due prominence should be as required by the regulator.

iii) A fair opportunity to reply to significant inaccuracies should be given, when reasonably called for.

iv) The Press, while free to editorialise and campaign, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

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. In considering an individual's reasonable expectation of privacy, account will be taken of the complainant's own public disclosures of information and the extent to which the material complained about is already in the public domain or will become so.

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

Findings of the Committee

10. The Committee first considered whether, in respect of the information published in the article, the complainant had a reasonable expectation of privacy.

11. It was not in dispute that prior to the publication of the article under complaint, the complainant had consented for the disclosure of information relating to the medical treatments which she had received from the doctor, to be publicly shared on her doctor’s social media account to a large audience. These posts had disclosed information about the treatments which had been administered to the complainant, their intended purpose, and the doctor’s opinion on the results which had been achieved. The claim, which was reported in the article, that the doctor “wanted to do more subtle improvements” on the complainant was merely a reflection of the information which had already been widely shared on social media, with the complainant’s express consent. The complainant had no reasonable expectation of privacy over this information, in those circumstances.

12. The Committee turned to the further information disclosed in the article; this information was limited.

13. The doctor had claimed that she often had to “convince” the complainant “not to go too over-the-top”, and was quoted as saying that the complainant liked the “more overdone look”. While this information was presented as advice given by the doctor during the course of the complainant’s treatments, there was no suggestion that the complainant had pursued treatment against medical warnings; in fact, her appearance had been complimented by the doctor. The doctor’s views on the complainant’s appearance and choice of treatments, was not information about which the complainant had a reasonable expectation of privacy in all the circumstances. There was no breach of Clause 2.

14. The article had been based on comments made by the complainant’s doctor at interview, who had made several claims about the complainant’s appearance. The publication had taken care not to adopt these claims as fact, and had clearly presented them as the doctor’s opinion. The claim that the complainant’s “changing face” had been “revealed” by the publication, was not misleading in that context. There was no breach of Clause 1.


15. The complaint was not upheld.

Remedial Action required


Date complaint received: 20/08/2018

Date decision issued: 10/01/2019