Ruling

09397-16 Allison v The Belfast Telegraph

    • Date complaint received

      2nd March 2017

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      2 Privacy

Decision of the Complaints Committee 09397-16 Allison v The Belfast Telegraph

Summary of complaint

1. Linda Allison complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Belfast Telegraph breached Clause 2 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “You are lucky, judge tells £40,000 loan fraudster as she avoids prison term”, published on 15 October 2016.

2. The article reported that the complainant had pleaded guilty to charges of forgery and had been given a 12-month sentence, which was suspended for three years. It said that she had previously admitted to stealing from dormant bank accounts during her employment at a bank. 

3. The article was also published online.

4. The complainant expressed concern that the newspaper had published her photograph, which she said had been taken without her knowledge or consent. She said her conviction did not diminish her right to privacy.

5. The newspaper said that the photograph of the complainant had been taken on a public street in circumstances in which she did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.  It considered that given the serious criminal charges she faced and her subsequent conviction, it had been entitled to take her photograph.

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 complainant had been photographed outside court. The image had shown the complainant’s face; she was not engaged in a private activity at the time it was taken, and it did not disclose anything private about her. While she had not consented to having her photograph taken, this was a public place in which she had no reasonable expectation of privacy. As such, consent was not required by Clause 2(iii). The complaint under Clause 2 was not upheld.

Conclusion

8. The complaint was not upheld.

Date complaint received: 16/10/2016
Date decision issued: 09/02/2017