Ruling

Resolution statement 06151-20 A Woman v The Sunday Telegraph

    • Date complaint received

      3rd December 2020

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 10 Clandestine devices and subterfuge, 2 Privacy, 3 Harassment

Resolution statement 06151-20 A Woman v The Sunday Telegraph

Summary of complaint

1. A woman complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Sunday Telegraph breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 2 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “We baby boomers are still bewitched by the cult of youth” published on 19 January 2020.

2. The article was a comment piece in which the writer was critical of those she considers to be in denial about the advancement of their age. In support of her argument, the writer gave the example of a woman who had sued her employers for age discrimination when they gave her a birthday card. The woman’s age, name, general location, and former job role were reported. The article explained that the judge had “thrown out” her claim.

3. The article also appeared online in the same form on the same day with the headline “We vain and graceless babyboomers are still bewitched by the cult of youth”.

4. The complainant was the woman named in the article as having sued her former employers for age discrimination. She said that the article had inaccurately reported her legal action – it was not the case it was based solely on age discrimination, and instead was mainly focussed on alleged harassment and breaches of data protection law. Furthermore, she said that she was inaccurate to say that the judge had “thrown out” her case when she said that it had been considered by a judge at two hearings and a four-day final hearing. She also said that the article intruded into her privacy, as the publicly available judgement gave only her last name and initial rather than her full name as reported in the article.

5. The newspaper did not accept that the article breached the Editors’ Code. It said that the article was a comment piece, and not an in-depth report of the complainant’s case. It said that it was not in dispute that the complainant’s case against her former employers related in part to alleged age discrimination, and the writer was entitled to focus on that to illustrate her wider point about attitudes to aging in society. It said that it was not inaccurate to say that the complainant’s case had been “thrown out” when this would be readily understood to mean her claims were not upheld in a court or tribunal, as was the case. It said that the judgement was publicly available – whether it included the complainant’s full name or simply her last name and initial did not give her a reasonable expectation of privacy over her connection to the case.

Relevant Code Provisions

6. 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.

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 agreed to remove all identifying references to the complainant from the online article, including the user comments underneath the article.

9. The complainant said that this would resolve her complaint.

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: 14/05/2020

Datde complaint concluded by IPSO: 24/11/2020