Resolution Statement – 10206-22 Forde & Doyle v The Argus

    • Date complaint received

      17th November 2022

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 12 Discrimination, 14 Confidential sources, 2 Privacy

Resolution Statement – 10206-22 Forde & Doyle v The Argus

Summary of Complaint

1. Reis Forde and Sinead Doyle complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Argus breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy), Clause 12 (Discrimination), and Clause 14 (Confidential sources) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in the articles headlined “Teenager died at Airbnb flat after taking drugs”, “It was a 'significant lapse of care'”, and “Mother's formal complaint to police over daughter's death” published on 18 March 2022, 21 March 2022, and 23 March 2022 respectively.

2. The articles reported on the death of a 17-year-old girl following a night spent in an Airbnb flat, and the subsequent inquest into her death. The first article reported that the inquest heard that the girl had been at the Airbnb with Reis Forde, one of the complainants, and that he had awoken the next day and “noticed she was sleeping in ‘a strange position’”. The article further reported that it had been heard at the inquest that Mr Forde “made several calls on his mobile in the morning of February 25, including several to Sinead Doyle”.

3. The second article reported further on the inquest and stated that the girl “had taken a cocktail of alcohol, heroin and cocaine after spending the night with her boyfriend Reis Forde, 26, a convicted drug dealer”. The third article further reported on the inquest and also described the complainant, Mr Forde, as the “boyfriend” of the girl.

4. The articles also appeared online in substantially the same format as their print counterparts under the headlines, “Teenager died after taking cocktail of alcohol, heroin and cocaine”, “Teenager's inquest told of a 'significant lapse of care'”, and “Grieving mother makes formal complaint against police after death of her daughter” published on 17 March 2022, 21 March 2022, and 22 March 2022 respectively. The second and third online articles also described Mr Forde as the “boyfriend” of the girl.

5. The complainants said that the second and third print and online articles were inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 to describe Mr Forde as the boyfriend of the girl. They said that they had both explained during the inquest that this was not the case.

6. The complainants further said that they considered the articles had also breached Clauses 2, 12, and 14. The complainants concerns regarding Clause 2 related to photographs of Ms Doyle, however these photographs did not appear in any of the articles under complaint. Further, the complainants did not expand on their concerns in relation to Clauses 12 and 14.

7. The publication did not accept a breach of the Editors’ Code. In relation to Clause 1, it provided the coroner’s verdict which contained a section that stated: “She [the girl] told her friend that she was in a relationship with a man who was known as Rex, but his name was Reis Forde and that they had been in a relationship since January”. It said that it did not consider the difference between the phrases “in a relationship” and “boyfriend” to be significantly different.

Relevant Code Provisions

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 their private and family life, home, physical and mental 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.

Clause 12 (Discrimination)

i) The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual's race, colour, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.

ii) Details of an individual's race, colour, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story.

Clause 14 (Confidential sources)

Journalists have a moral obligation to protect confidential sources of information.

Mediated Outcome

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

9. During IPSO’s investigation the publication offered to remove the words “her boyfriend” from all the articles they appeared in.

10. The complainants said that this would resolve the matter to their satisfaction.

11. 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: 18/06/2022

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 02/11/2022