Ruling

Resolution Statement 06021-18 Harvey v Mail Online

    • Date complaint received

      3rd January 2019

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      2 Privacy, 3 Harassment, 6 Children

Resolution Statement 06021-18 Harvey v Mail Online

Summary of Complaint 

1. Jennifer Harvey complained on behalf of two parents of a primary school that Mail Online breached Clause 2 (Privacy), Clause 3 (Harassment), and Clause 6 (Children) in an article headlined “Katie Price 'SWEARS' at ex-husband Kieran Hayler's new girlfriend for 'kissing' daughter Bunny... as they meet for the first time” published on 10 September 2018. 

2. The article reported on Katie Price’s relationships, and featured several photographs of her dropping off her daughter at school. Other parents and children were visible in the background of these photographs; these children’s faces were pixelated. 

3. The complainant said that the photographer was concealed in a shrub when he took the photos, which she said showed the two parents and their children on school premises. None of those represented by the complainant were aware or consented to the photographs being taken or published. The complainant said that even though the children were pixelated, they were easily recognisable to those who knew them. 

4. The publication said that the publication of the photographs was not intended to cause upset and said that the images were obtained from a reputable agency. It said that the photographs did not reveal anything private- the complainants were simply in the background- and they did not have any expectation of privacy in circumstances in which they were in full public view. It pointed out that the article did not name the school or disclose its location, or publish any information which could identify those in the background of the photos. However, as a gesture of goodwill, it offered to also pixelate the parents which appeared in the background of the photo. 

5. The publication said that the photographer was positioned in a public road, opposite the school but within sight of the parents. The publication said that the agency estimated that the photographer was 15-20ft away from the subject of the photos, using a 70-200mm lens. 

6. The publication said that there was no possible intrusion into the complainants’ children’s time at school- they were not deliberately photographed and the publication took steps to ensure that they were unidentifiable via heavy pixilation. Furthermore, the publication said that the photographer took the images swiftly and without drawing attention- the taking of the photographs themselves was not intrusive. It said that this was further reinforced by the fact that it did not receive any complaint until the images had been published. 

Relevant Code Provisions 

7. 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. 

3. *Harassment

i) Journalists must not engage in intimidation, harassment or persistent pursuit.

ii) They must not persist in questioning, telephoning, pursuing or photographing individuals once asked to desist; nor remain on property when asked to leave and must not follow them. If requested, they must identify themselves and whom they represent.

iii)  Editors must ensure these principles are observed by those working for them and take care not to use non-compliant material from other sources. 

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. 

The Public Interest

There may be exceptions to the clauses marked * where they can be demonstrated to be in the public interest.

1. The public interest includes, but is not confined to:

  • Detecting or exposing crime, or the threat of crime, or serious impropriety.
  • Protecting public health or safety.
  • Protecting the public from being misled by an action or statement of an individual or organisation.
  • Disclosing a person or organisation’s failure or likely failure to comply with any obligation to which they are subject.
  • Disclosing a miscarriage of justice.
  • Raising or contributing to a matter of public debate, including serious cases of impropriety, unethical conduct or incompetence concerning the public.
  • Disclosing concealment, or likely concealment, of any of the above.

2. There is a public interest in freedom of expression itself.

3. The regulator will consider the extent to which material is already in the public domain or will become so.

4. Editors invoking the public interest will need to demonstrate that they reasonably believed publication - or journalistic activity taken with a view to publication – would both serve, and be proportionate to, the public interest and explain how they reached that decision at the time.

5. An exceptional public interest would need to be demonstrated to over-ride the normally paramount interests of children under 16. 

Mediated Outcome 

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

9. During IPSO’s investigation, the publication and complainant reached a private agreement, which resolved the matter to the satisfaction of both parties. 

10. As the complaint was successfully mediated, the Complaints Committee did not make a determination as to whether there has been any breach of the Code.

 

Date complaint received: 11/09/2018

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 14/12/2018