Resolution Statement – 20837-23 Emery v

    • Date complaint received

      30th November 2023

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 2 Privacy, 4 Intrusion into grief or shock

Resolution Statement – 20837-23 Emery v

Summary of Complaint

1. Sara Emery complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “'Multi-vehicle' crash closes A166 in East Yorkshire - live updates”, published on 18 September 2023.

2. The article was a report on a traffic incident, with live updates. The article was illustrated with a stock image, which showed two police cars parked on a road. 

3. The complainant said that the article was in breach of Clause 1, Clause 2 and Clause 4 because she said the stock image had been taken at the scene of a fatal accident involving her 16-year-old son, which had taken place four years previously. Although the image did not show her son, and the complainant said it was “an innocuous photo to anyone else”, she said the publication of the image had caused great distress to her and her family. She said she’d contacted the publication before, as the image had previously been used to illustrate a separate article, and she had been assured the image would be deleted and not published again.

4. Prior to contacting IPSO, the complainant contacted the publication to express her concern that the image had been used and to request its removal. The publication apologised for using the image and removed it from the article. The complainant did not accept this as a resolution to her concern and made a complaint to IPSO. The matter was then referred back to the publication by IPSO.

5. While the publication expressed regret at the hurt caused by the publication of the image, it did not accept publishing it breached the Code. It said the photograph did not include any private information or imagery of a sensitive nature, and depicted emergency service vehicles on a road only. It said although the complainant said she previously asked for this image to not be reused, it was not able to find any previous record of this request and, although unfortunate, it did not consider a broken assurance to amount to a breach of the Code.

Clause Provisions

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 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock)

In cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries and approaches must be made with sympathy and discretion and publication handled sensitively. These provisions should not restrict the right to report legal proceedings.

Mediated Outcome

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

7. During IPSO’s investigation the publication offered add a legal warning to the image to ensure it would not be used again. The legal warning would apply to the and all other publications with the same parent company (Reach PLC). 

8. The complainant said this would resolve the matter to her satisfaction.

9. 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: 18/09/2023

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 14/11/2023