Ruling

07806-16, Khan v That’s Life!

    • Date complaint received

      20th October 2016

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 2 Privacy

Decision of the Complaints Committee 07806-16, Khan v That’s Life!

Summary of complaint

1. Naveed Khan complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that That’s Life breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 2 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Rat hid secret wife and baby down the road”, published on 4 August 2016. 

2. The article gave the complainant’s ex-partner’s first-person account of their break-up. It said that shortly after their child was born, the pair moved in together, but as the complainant worked at a youth centre and as a delivery driver, and frequently visited his parents, he was rarely at home. It said that she had been shocked when the complainant was arrested during a police raid at a friend’s house and was later imprisoned for drug offences. It said that on reading a local report on his conviction, she had discovered that he had a previous conviction for selling drugs and that he was married and his wife was pregnant. The article said that the complainant’s partner had ignored his letters, which he had written to her from prison.

3. The complainant considered that his ex-partner’s account contained numerous inaccuracies, and expressed concern that the magazine had failed to put any of the allegations to him before publication.

4. The complainant said that he was married in Pakistan in 2009, but his wife had not come to England until 2012. He said that his relationship with his ex-partner had started in 2011, and he had told her that he was married after two months. He accepted that she had discovered that his wife was pregnant by reading a newspaper report on his conviction.

5. The complainant said that he had never lived with his ex-partner: he had always lived with his parents and stayed at her house once a week. He denied her claim that he had failed to contribute financially. He also did not work at a youth centre. 

6. The complainant denied the report that he had been arrested during a police raid at a friend’s house, and referenced a local newspaper report as an accurate account of events. He considered that he was innocent of the offences, although he was found guilty. He also denied that his ex-partner had been unaware of his previous conviction, and that she had ignored the letters he had sent from prison – he said she had written to him weekly and they had lived together after his release.

7. The complainant also expressed concern that the magazine had published photographs of him without his consent.  

8. The magazine said that the complainant’s ex-partner stood by her account, and it considered that she had been entitled to tell her story. It noted that she had signed a contract stating that the article was accurate.

9. The magazine considered that the main thrust of the story was that the complainant had relationships with two women at the same time and had been convicted for selling drugs. It noted that the newspaper report, which the complainant had accepted as an accurate account, had said that the complainant had “used the home of Adam Richardson…to store drugs, and police found 200g of cannabis worth about £2,000 when they raided the flat on the morning of February 17 last year”. As his ex-partner’s account had been supported by newspaper reports, it had not considered it necessary to contact the complainant for his comment before publication.

10. With regards to the complainant’s position that he had never lived with his ex-partner, the magazine noted that she had said “he was always around and he’d stay the night”. It also noted that the complainant had been described previously as a “youth mentor” in newspaper reports.

11. The magazine considered that one of the published images belonged to the police and had already been published in various media, and the remaining had been provided by his ex-partner. It did not consider that publishing the images had disclosed anything private about the complainant.

Relevant Code provisions

12. 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. Account will be taken of the complainant's own public disclosures of information.

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

13. The Committee noted the complainant’s concerns regarding the accuracy of his ex-partner’s account; however, it was accepted that the complainant had been convicted for selling drugs. The magazine had been entitled to report details of that conviction, regardless of the complainant’s contention that he was innocent. In addition, it was accepted that he had withheld details about his marriage from his ex-partner, and that she had discovered that his wife was pregnant by reading a local newspaper report on his conviction. In the context of an article that had reported these key points of the story accurately, the omission of the complainant’s version of events – including that he had supported his son – was not significantly misleading.

14. There was no failure to take care over the accuracy of the article. No significant inaccuracies were identified by the complaint. The complaint under Clause 1 was not upheld.

15. The magazine had published images of the complainant, which had shown his face, and which had been provided by the police and his ex-partner. The images and the article itself had not disclosed private information about the complainant in breach of Clause 2.

Conclusions

16. The complaint was not upheld.

Remedial action required

N/A

Date complaint received: 10/08/2016
Date decision issued: 3/10/2016