Resolution Statement – 20943-23 A man and a woman v

  • Complaint Summary

    A man and a woman complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 6 (Children) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

    • Date complaint received

      14th December 2023

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 2 Privacy, 6 Children

Resolution Statement – 20943-23 A man and a woman v

Summary of Complaint

1. A man and a woman complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 6 (Children) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

2. The article reported on an incident which took place at a school, which involved complainants’ child. The article did not name the child. 

3. The complainants said that the article gave a misleading account of the incident, in breach of Clause 1. They said it misrepresented the incident and suggested the child had engaged in illegal activity, which they denied.

4. The complainants said the article represented an intrusion into their child’s privacy, in breach of Clause 2. The complainants said that despite the article not naming their child, the child was identified from the level of detail included about the incident.

5. The complainants also said the publication of the article breached Clause 6 as it had a distressing impact on their child and led to unnecessary intrusion into their time at school.

6. The publication did not accept a breach of Clause 1, as it maintained its coverage was accurate.

7. The publication did not accept a breach of Clause 2 or Clause 6 either. It noted that the article did not name the child. It did not accept the article contained sufficient information to identify the child to those who did not already know of them or of the reported incident. It also noted that another article regarding the incident had already been published a separate publication and so much of the information in the article was already in the public domain.

8. Although the publication did not accept a breach of the Code, to resolve the complaint, it offered, on a goodwill basis, to remove some, but not all, of the information which the complainants said identified their child.

9. The complainants did not consider this sufficient: they requested for the publication to remove the article in full. The publication declined to do so.  

Relevant Clause 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)*

Everyone is entitled to respect for their private and family life, home, physical and mental health, and correspondence, including digital communications.

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.

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)*

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

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

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.

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.

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.

Mediated Outcome

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

11. During IPSO’s investigation the publication offered to remove the online article in full.

12. The complainant said this would resolve the matter to their satisfaction.

13. 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:  22/09/2023

Date complaint concluded by IPSO:  21/11/2023