Ruling

Resolution Statement 05696-18 A woman v Leamington Spa Courier

    • Date complaint received

      4th October 2018

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      2 Privacy, 6 Children

Resolution Statement 05696-18 A woman v Leamington Spa Courier

Summary of complaint

1. A woman complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Leamington Spa Courier breached Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 6 (Children) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “LAMP provides a lifeline to families across the district”, published on 17 August 2018.

2. The article was a letter to the publication written by the complainant. In it, the complainant argued that provision of specialist education in her area for children with additional needs should be continued. She said that her child has additional needs, and attended the school in question. At the end of the letter, the complainant’s full name and partial address were published.

3. The complainant said that the article breached Clause 2 (Privacy), because it included her name and address, information that she had specifically requested that the publication withhold. She said that this meant her child could be identified from the letter, and that where he went to school was private information. She was also very concerned that people who were previously not aware of her child’s learning difficulties might now know, as a result of this letter.

4. The complaint also said that the article breached Clause 6 (Children) because identifying her child, his school, and the fact of his learning difficulties represented an intrusion on her child’s time at school, and could cause safeguarding issues.

5. When the publication was initially contacted by the complainant, it questioned whether the complainant had made her request for anonymity sufficiently clear. However, later in correspondence, the publication acknowledged that it had made a serious mistake in publishing the complainant’s details, and accepted that it was responsible for the error.

Relevant Code provisions

6. 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.

Clause 6 (Children)

i) All pupils should be free to complete their time at school without unnecessary intrusion.

ii) They must not be approached or photographed at school without permission of the school authorities.

iii) Children under 16 must not be interviewed or photographed on issues involving their own or another child’s welfare unless a custodial parent or similarly responsible adult consents.

iv) Children under 16 must not be paid for material involving their welfare, nor parents or guardians for material about their children or wards, unless it is clearly in the child's interest.

v) Editors must not use the fame, notoriety or position of a parent or guardian as sole justification for publishing details of a child's private life.

Mediated outcome

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

8. During IPSO’s investigation, the publication offered a private letter of apology to the complainant, which accepted full responsibility for the mistake, and assured the complainant that action had been taken within the publication to avoid a repeat of the situation.

9. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to her satisfaction.

10. 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: 22/08/2018

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 13/09/2018