Ruling

Resolution Statement – 11123-21 Traynor & Openshaw v thesun.co.uk

    • Date complaint received

      3rd February 2022

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 2 Privacy, 9 Reporting of crime

Resolution Statement – 11123-21 Traynor & Openshaw v thesun.co.uk

Summary of Complaint

1. Antonia Traynor and Gary Openshaw complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that thesun.co.uk breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 9 (Reporting of Crime) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “LOVE FEUD Deputy headmistress, 30, sacked after posting photos of boyfriend’s ex lover’s breasts on Facebook in bitter love feud”, published on 27th October 2021.

2. The article reported on the recent conviction of a woman – the complainant - for disclosing private sexual photographs with intent to cause distress and using threatening behaviour. It reported that the complainant, a “deputy head”, “was sacked after she posted revenge porn pictures of her boyfriend's ex-lover in a jealous rage”, which it claimed had occurred in the January of that year. It reported that the prosecution had said that the victim “knew the picture was of herself taken from sometime ago”. It described the complainant as a “jealous deputy head” and the situation as a “bitter love feud”. It went on to claim that “two months later” the complainant had “also made a throat slitting gesture towards the victim, who had previously dated Traynor's boyfriend Gary Openshaw before they were in a relationship” and that “Traynor [was] now claiming Universal Credit after being sacked from her role at an unnamed school”. The article included a number of photographs of both the complainants.

3. The complainants, the woman named in the article and her partner, said that the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) to state that she was a “deputy headmistress” and “deputy head”, as she had been a teacher, rather than a deputy headteacher. The complainants also said that it was inaccurate for the article to state that the woman was “sacked” from her teaching role, as she had left the position due to personal circumstances prior to being charged for the offence. They also said it was inaccurate to state that the incident involving the photograph had happened in January of that year (2021), as it had occurred a year earlier in January 2020. The complainants said it was also inaccurate for the article to claim that she “made a throat slitting gesture towards the victim” as this was untrue. They added that this alleged incident did not occur “two months later” as the article claimed, as the second allegation was made over a year after the first.

4. In addition, the complainants said that while Ms Traynor was claiming Universal Credit, the claim that “Traynor is now claiming Universal Credit after being sacked from her role” inaccurately suggested that she had recently started claiming Universal Credit, whereas she had been claiming it for the past six months. The complainants also said that it was inaccurate for the article to state that the image in question was “taken from some time ago” as it had been taken on the same night it was sent.

5. The complainants also said that the article was in breach of Clause 2 (Privacy) as it included photographs of them from their private social media accounts, which had been published without their consent. The complainants also disputed that the name “Gary” had been heard in court, and considered that it should not have been included in the article.

6. The complainants also considered the article to be in breach of Clause 9 (Reporting of Crime) as it was inaccurate for the headline to state that the woman had been “sacked” from her job.

7. The publication did not accept a breach of the Code; it said that the article had been provided by a news agency and published in good faith. It added that the court reporter took full contemporaneous notes of proceedings, of which it provided a transcript, and that the article was an accurate report of the proceedings. The publication accepted, however, that it had inaccurately reported that the incident involving the photograph  had occurred in January of that year (2021). While it did not consider this was a significant inaccuracy, it amended the date as a gesture of goodwill. The publication made clear that it would be willing to correct any inaccuracy, once it was satisfied of the existence of one, and provided with evidence to support the correct position.  

8. The complainants disputed the accuracy of the transcript of the court reporter’s notes; they said that it contained incorrect quotes and omitted certain information.

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 9 (Reporting of Crime)*

i) Relatives or friends of persons convicted or accused of crime should not generally be identified without their consent, unless they are genuinely relevant to the story.

ii) Particular regard should be paid to the potentially vulnerable position of children under the age of 18 who witness, or are victims of, crime. This should not restrict the right to report legal proceedings.

iii) Editors should generally avoid naming children under the age of 18 after arrest for a criminal offence but before they appear in a youth court unless they can show that the individual’s name is already in the public domain, or that the individual (or, if they are under 16, a custodial parent or similarly responsible adult) has given their consent. This does not restrict the right to name juveniles who appear in a crown court, or whose anonymity is lifted.

Mediated Outcome

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

10. During IPSO’s investigation the complainants suggested a number of alterations to the article, including: the removal of any reference to the woman being a Deputy Head, replacing it with “woman”; removal of any reference to the woman being “sacked” from her job; removal of the statements “bitter love feud” and “jealous rage”; removal of the claim that the complainant “is now” claiming universal credit “after being sacked from her role at an unnamed school”.

11. The complainants also suggested that the publication should publish the following footnote clarification:

In our article published on October 27 about a woman who had been tried for posting revenge porn images online, we reported that Antonia Traynor was a Deputy Headteacher who had been sacked from her job. We have since been contacted by Ms Traynor who advises that she was a former Teacher, not a Deputy Head, and was not sacked from her previous employment. She was unemployed at the time of conviction. We are happy to set the record straight.

12. The publication agreed to remove the references outlined by the complainants and to publish the clarification.

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

14. 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: 02/11/2021

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 23/11/2021