Ruling

Resolution Statement 18758-17 Chiariello v Mail Online

    • Date complaint received

      16th November 2017

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 2 Privacy

Resolution Statement 18758-17 Chiariello v Mail Online

Summary of complaint

1.  Gez Chiariello complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Mail Online breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 2 (Privacy) in the following articles:

  • “Police force suspends chief who left his wife and moved in with an officer 15 years younger for ‘gross misconduct’” published on 21 February 2017
  • “Suspended police chief ‘tried to interfere with investigation into his alleged misconduct involving women officers’” published on 26 September 2017.

2. The first article reported that the complainant had been suspended from the police force due to allegations of gross misconduct that was said to include allegations over his interaction with female officers. The article stated that an investigation was to be carried out by the force’s professional standards department and may lead to a disciplinary hearing. The article also reported that the complainant had “left his wife and moved in with an officer almost 15 years younger than him” and included a photograph of the complainant’s partner, who was named in the article.

3. The second article reported that the complainant had been arrested on suspicion of trying to interfere with the investigation into his alleged misconduct, which it reported related to female officers.  It stated that the date for his disciplinary hearing had not been set, and included a statement from the police confirming an officer had been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and harassment. The article also stated that the complainant had “left his wife and moved in with a policewoman 15 years his junior” and included a photograph of his partner, who was named in the article.

4. The complainant said that the articles were inaccurate, as the investigation into his alleged misconduct did not relate to his interactions with female officers. He also raised concern that the articles were misleading, as they suggested he had left his wife for his current partner, which was not the case. The complainant also said it was inaccurate for the second article to state that the date for his hearing had not been set, as it had been scheduled for October for quite some time.

5. The complainant said that his partner was not relevant to the story and the publication of her photograph was a breach of her privacy.

6. The publication did not accept it had breached the Code. It said that the information in the article had been provided by a reputable news agency and had been published in good faith. The publication said that the details of the complainant’s alleged gross misconduct had been provided by a source, and denied that the article suggested that the complainant had left his wife for his new partner.

7. The publication said that the details of the complainant’s new relationship were relevant to the story, and denied that the references to his partner represented an intrusion into her private life. It said that the photograph included in the articles was publicly available on the complainant’s partner’s Facebook and did not show anything private in nature about the individual.

Relevant Code provisions

8. 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.

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.

Mediated outcome

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

10. Following IPSO’s intervention, the newspaper offered to remove references to female officers from the articles and removed the photograph of the complainant’s partner.

11. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to his satisfaction.

12. 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: 27/09/2017
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 26/09/2017