Ruling

Resolution Statement 07343-18 Williams v metro.co.uk

    • Date complaint received

      31st January 2019

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      2 Privacy

Resolution Statement 07343-18 Williams v metro.co.uk

Summary of complaint

1. Sophie Williams complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that metro.co.uk breached Clause 2 (Privacy) in an article headlined “Half-naked pensioner filmed being mocked ‘by care home staff’”, published on 12 November 2018.

2. The article reported that the complainant had been suspended from her role at a care home, after she had allegedly videoed a resident, who was dressed only in his underwear at the time, and had shared the video online. The article reported that the video was shared by the complainant, “before later being passed on to care watchdogs and the company that runs the home”. The article was accompanied by a still from the video, which showed the man in a state of undress; his face had been heavily pixelated. A photograph of the complainant also accompanied the article.

3. The complainant said that the video had originally been shared on her Snapchat account, which had privacy settings in place. She said that only three of her Snapchat friends were able to see the video before she had removed it. She said that there was no justification for the article to identify her by name, and disclose her age and the area in which she lived, as her case was under investigation and she had not been found guilty of anything.

4. The publication did not accept a breach of the Code. It said that the article did not state, at any point, that the complainant had been found guilty of anything; it accurately reported that the complainant was under investigation. In that context, the publication said it was entirely justified to identify the complainant by name, and she had no reasonable expectation of privacy over this information. The publication said that the location of the care home an important detail which fully informed readers about the events being reported on.

Relevant Code provisions

5. 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

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

7. During IPSO’s investigation, the publication offered to remove the photograph of the complainant from the article. The complainant said that this action would resolve her complaint. 

8. 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: 12/11/2018

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 09/01/2019