Ruling

17771-23 Nassiri v falmouthpacket.co.uk

    • Date complaint received

      20th July 2023

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      2 Privacy, 6 Children

Decision of the Complaints Committee – 17771-23 Nassiri v falmouthpacket.co.uk


Summary of Complaint

1. Karen Nassiri complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that falmouthpacket.co.uk breached Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 6 (Children) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article, published in March 2023.

2. The article was a court report which reported that a 24-year-old man had been found guilty of dangerous driving, and included the man’s street level address and village. The man’s address was removed from the article prior to a complaint being made to IPSO.

3. The complainant, the mother of the man 24-year-old man, said that the article intruded into her and her children’s privacy in breach of Clause 2. She said she and her children had an expectation of privacy over their street level address as there was a court order in place, which she said prevented the publication of the address in question. To support her position on this point, she provided a court order from the family division of the High Court in 2010, which named two children, and stated that the address of the complainant and “the children” could not be disclosed to a further named party “until further order”. The man in the article was not named in the order, which related to the complainant’s two younger children. The complainant also provided an email from the Courts and Tribunal Service which stated that her address was not mentioned in the recording of the criminal case being reported on, and that the judge had stated the address should not have been published. She noted that there were 22 houses on her street, and considered it would, therefore, be easy to identify their home from the information published in the article.

4. The complainant also said that the publication of her address represented a breach of Clause 6 as her other two children were minors and lived at the same address. She said the article had been circulated on social media and that her children, who were both under 16 years old, had been asked about their brother as they shared the same address.

5. The publication did not accept a breach of the Code. It initially said that there had been no reference to any court order on either the magistrates’ court listing in January and that it had not been referenced at the time of sentencing in the Crown Court.  It also provided the magistrates court listing, which included the complainant’s address. It then said that, when the complainant initially contacted the newspaper – prior to her complaining to IPSO – the reporter had phoned the court’s clerk, who had initially been unaware of the order, but had then recontacted the newspaper half-an-hour later to say she found a family court order from 2010. Whilst the publication did not consider that the address’ inclusion amounted to an intrusion into the complainant’s privacy, it said that it had deleted the address whilst still on the phone to the complainant during her initial contact with the publication as an act of goodwill.

6. The publication also said that – as the court order came from the family division of the court – it would not apply to anyone aged over 18, such as the complainant’s older son. It noted, furthermore, the order did not name the older son, but rather the complainant and her two other children – who were not referred to in the article under complaint. The publication also said that it would only be in very rare cases that a family court order would apply to criminal proceedings, such as those being reported in the article. It said that as the order had not been served at the criminal court, or to the newspaper, no restriction on reporting the man’s name had ever been in place. The publication also provided a letter from the court saying that the complainant had raised the 2010 family court order at the court and, whilst the judge had said the address should not be published, no formal court order was made in relation to the criminal proceedings against the complainant’s eldest son.

7. The publication said that Clause 6 was not engaged as the article did not reference any children, nor make a connection between the complainant’s children and the man referred to in the article.

Relevant Clause Provisions

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 6 (Children)*

i) All pupils should be free to complete their time at school without unnecessary intrusion.

ii) They must not be approached or photographed at school without permission of the school authorities.

iii) Children under 16 must not be interviewed or photographed on issues involving their own or another child’s welfare unless a custodial parent or similarly responsible adult consents.

iv) Children under 16 must not be paid for material involving their welfare, nor parents or guardians for material about their children or wards, unless it is clearly in the child's interest.

v) Editors must not use the fame, notoriety or position of a parent or guardian as sole justification for publishing details of a child's private life.

Findings of the Committee

8. The complainant had supplied a court order issued by the family division court. The order had stated that the complainant’s address, and that of “the children” named in the document, could not be disclosed to a named party. It did not reference the subject of the article, nor did it say that the address itself could not be published.

9. In addition, the Editor’s Code makes clear that, when considering whether a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy account will be taken of the extent to which the material complained about is already in the public domain. The complainant’s son’s address had been placed in the public domain when it was put in the magistrate’s court listing. Where the family court order did not refer to the complainant’s older son, and the court had not made a formal order restricting the publication of his address in relation to the court proceedings reported on in the article, the newspaper was justified in publishing the complainant’s son’s street level address in relation to his crime. This was because, in accordance with the principle of open justice, newspapers are generally entitled to report information that has been disclosed in court documents and is not subject to a reporting restriction and addresses can help identify defendants. There was no breach of Clause 2.

10. Where the complainant’s other children were not identified or alluded to in the article, it was not a breach of Clause 6 to publish the address they were staying at in the context of a report on public court proceedings involving another resident at the address.

Conclusions

11. The complaint was not upheld.

Remedial action required

12. N/A

 

Date complaint received:  29/03/2023

Date complaint concluded by IPSO:  03/07/2023