Ruling

Resolution Statement 0782-18 Wilson v thesun.co.uk

    • Date complaint received

      14th February 2019

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 2 Privacy

Resolution Statement 0782-18 Wilson v thesun.co.uk

Summary of complaint

1. Amanda Wilson complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that thesun.co.uk breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 2 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “JINGLE BRAWLS Christmas party season gets messy with bloodsoaked boozers carted off in ambulances”, published on 9 December 2018.

2. The article was a photo gallery which showed 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 pictured with blood on her face.

3. The complainant said that the article gave the misleading impression that she was involved in a “brawl” and was a “boozer”. 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 it was simply a pun on the song “Jingle Bells”.

6. The publication said that the photographs were taken in a public place in which the complainant did not have any reasonable expectation of privacy; in these circumstances there was no obligation to ask for permission or inform the subjects of the photographs prior to publication. However, the publication said that there was no intent to cause any distress in publishing the photographs, and removed the article in question on receipt of the complaint. 

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 send the complainant a private letter of apology which made clear that any reference to a “brawl” was in no way intended to suggest that the complainant had been involved in a fight or altercation.

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