Ruling

07962-16 A man v Daily Record

    • Date complaint received

      17th November 2016

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      2 Privacy

Decision of the Complaints Committee 07962-16 A man v Daily Record

Summary of Complaint

1. A man complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Daily Record breached Clause 2 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Veterans’ fury at Walter Mitty Bloody Sunday Bigot”, published on 16 August 2016.

2. The article reported that Allan Woods, who it said had “launched a vile rant” against a “hero priest”, had falsely claimed to have had a successful military career. It said that Mr Woods had superimposed his face onto an image of the complainant, a “real decorated soldier”. The print version of the article named the complainant, gave the town he was from, and included his photograph. The online version additionally reported that he had completed four military tours in Northern Ireland, before serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that he had been awarded a number of medals, which were displayed on the uniform that Mr Woods had attempted to claim were his own.

3. The complainant considered that the publication of his full name, photograph, town where he lived, as well as details of his military career had been unnecessary and intrusive. He said that in publishing such detail about him – in particular by naming his hometown – the newspaper had acted negligently, and had put him and his family at risk of attack by terrorists.

4. The newspaper said that the purpose of the story had been to highlight Allan Woods’ fraud, and to contrast his dishonesty with the complainant’s bravery. It did not consider that the published information was private; it was publicly available on a website that documented the history of the Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces. Nevertheless, in response to the complaint, the newspaper offered to remove the complainant’s name and hometown from the online article, and to pixelate his photograph.

5. The complainant did not accept the removal of the information from the online article as resolution to the complaint. He accepted that his name, service history and photograph had appeared on a public website, but considered that the article had gone further by also identifying his hometown.

Relevant Code Provisions

6. 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

7. The Committee acknowledged the complainant’s security concerns. However, his name, photograph and details of his service career were already in the public domain on a publicly accessible website at the time the article was published. In addition, while the Committee understood the complainant’s position regarding the identification of his hometown, this was not information about which he had a reasonable expectation privacy.

8. The newspaper had not disclosed private information about the complainant in breach of Clause 2. Nevertheless, the Committee welcomed the amendment of the online article in response to the complaint.

Conclusions

9. The complaint was not upheld.

Remedial action required

N/A

Date complaint received: 16/08/2016
Date decision issued: 31/10/2016