Resolution Statement 07827-18 Wilson v Mail Online

    • Date complaint received

      14th February 2019

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 2 Privacy

Resolution Statement 07827-18 Wilson v Mail Online

Summary of Complaint

1. Amanda Wilson complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Mail Online breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 2 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “They'll be on the naughty list! Scenes of alcohol-fuelled carnage in Newcastle as a woman is left bloodied, several revellers are arrested by police and angry party-goers argue with each other as the Christmas party season gets underway”, published on 9 December 2018.

2. The article included a photo gallery of people attending Christmas parties in Newcastle. It featured two photographs of the complainant, one of which was the first photo in the article under the headline. The complainant was shown with blood over her face, being attended to by police.

3. The complainant said that the article gave the misleading impression that she was on the “naughty list” and had been involved in “alcohol-fuelled carnage”. She said that she had been attacked at random, was not drunk, and was in no way culpable for the injury she had sustained. She said that the impression given by this headline had greatly added to her distress at a difficult time.

4. The complainant said that the photographs were taken without her consent and knowledge, in breach of Clause 2 (Privacy). She said that the publication of these images caused her friends and family much concern, as many were unaware of the extent of her injuries prior to photographs appearing online.

5. The publication did not accept that the headline gave the misleading impression that the complainant was the originator of any violence, and said that readers would understand from the photograph captions and context that she was in fact a victim of someone on the “naughty list”.

6. The publication did not accept that the photographs showed anything private about the complainant. It said that, although clearly injured, she was not seriously hurt: she was speaking, standing, and not receiving medical treatment. Furthermore, it pointed out that she was in a crowded city centre on one of the busiest night of the year, and therefore had a very limited expectation of privacy. However, the publication said that there was no intent to cause any distress in publishing the photographs, and removed the images in question as soon as it was contacted by the complainant directly on 14 December 2018.

Relevant Code Provisions

1. 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 offered to publish the following standalone clarification on its online Corrections and Clarifications homepage for 24 hours:

On the 9th December 2018 we published an article with the headline ‘They'll be on the naughty list! Scenes of alcohol-fuelled carnage in Newcastle as a woman is left bloodied, several revellers are arrested by police and angry party-goers argue with each other on the first weekend of December’. In common with other news websites, the original version of the article contained an image of a woman whose face had been bloodied after an apparent altercation, and the picture caption observed that police were trying to work out who had injured her. The image was subsequently removed from Mailonline. We are happy to clarify there was no intention to imply that the woman pictured had been the instigator of any violence, and apologise for any contrary impression given. 

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: 11/12/2018

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 31/01/2019