Ruling

Resolution Statement 08778-16 Champion v Daily Mail

    • Date complaint received

      6th July 2017

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      2 Privacy, 3 Harassment

Resolution Statement 08778-16 Champion v Daily Mail

Summary of Complaint

1. Sarah Champion MP complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation on behalf of her parents, and on her own behalf, that the Daily Mail breached Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 3 (Harassment) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in relation to journalistic conduct.

2. The complainant said that in relation to a news story about her former marriage, a number of journalists had approached her parents on the same day for comment, which they had found distressing. She explained that one of these journalists was working for the Daily Mail. The complainant also raised concern at the newspaper’s attempt to contact her by visiting her house late at night, without attempting to contact her by telephone, email or via the Labour Party press office. She raised an additional concern that the newspaper had acted disproportionately by sending journalists to speak to her former neighbours to make enquiries about her personal life. She said that because of the nature of these enquiries, she believed they were made to damage her reputation, and that she found this to be intimidating.

3. The newspaper said that its journalist had an amicable exchange with the complainant’s father, ending in a handshake, and that the journalist did not attempt to contact him again. The newspaper said that one of its reporters had accidentally visited the complainant’s address, mistakenly believing he was at her parent’s address.  When he introduced himself as a reporter to two people nearby the house, he was told that “[the complainant’s] out”. He then realised that he was at the complainant’s address, rather than the address of her parents, and left. The newspaper said that a journalist was sent to make enquiries of the complainant’s former neighbours, with a view to publishing a feature article, although no such article was subsequently published. It denied that the journalist’s enquiries were an attempt to damage her reputation, or that it was an attempt to intimidate her. The newspaper said that the story its journalists were enquiring about was one of public interest, given the complainant’s role in the shadow cabinet, and that none of its reporters harassed or intimidated the people to whom they spoke. It denied that it breached the Code.

Relevant Code Provisions

4. 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.

Clause 3 (Harassment)

i) Journalists must not engage in intimidation, harassment or persistent pursuit.

ii) They must not persist in questioning, telephoning, pursuing or photographing individuals once asked to desist; nor remain on property when asked to leave and must not follow them. If requested, they must identify themselves and whom they represent.

iii)  Editors must ensure these principles are observed by those working for them and take care not to use non-compliant material from other sources.

Mediated outcome

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

6. Following IPSO’s intervention, the newspaper offered to send a private letter to the complainant’s parents, expressing regret if it unintentionally caused any offence.

7.  The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to her satisfaction.

8.  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: 29/09/2016

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 23/02/2017