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Arson victim went to IPSO after weekly shared his ‘viral’ Facebook appeal

An arson victim whose public Facebook appeal was shared thousands of times complained to the press watchdog after a weekly newspaper published information from it.

Paul Moran put a post on Facebook which contained details about the attack, as well as the names of his partner and young daughter.

It was seen by thousands of people, but Mr Moran went to the Independent Press Standards Organisation after the Bootle Champion used the information in a story aimed at generating support for him and his family.

He claimed the paper should not have published the family’s details because he had declined to respond to a message sent to him by one of its journalists on the social networking website.

Paul Moran complained to IPSO about the Bootle Champion's front page story

Paul Moran complained to IPSO about the Bootle Champion’s front page story

The Champion’s story also included a statement from a detective who appealed for those with information to come forward, as well as information about a Just Giving page set up to raise money for the family.

Mr Moran claimed the Champion had breached Clause 2 (Privacy), Clause 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock), Clause 6 (Children) and Clause 9 (Reporting of Crime) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, adding that the inclusion of his daughter’s name and age had infringed on her privacy and affected her safety.

The Champion said it became aware of the incident through a public statement issued by Merseyside Police Press Office appealing for information on this serious crime, and so published the story to help Mr Moran with his appeal for information and to generate support for the family via the Just Giving appeal.

The paper added that the personal details of the family included in the article were all in the public domain as they had appeared in the Facebook post that Mr Moran had made public, and which, by the complainant’s own admission had gone viral and been “shared thousands of times”.

IPSO found the information Mr Moran placed in the public domain as part of a public statement appealing for information, and did not consider that publication of the complainant’s daughter’s first name represented a failure to respect her private life, or was an unnecessary intrusion into her time at school.

The complaint was not upheld, and the full adjudication can be read here.

Other recent IPSO cases involving regional newspapers include:

Miller v Daily Record

Lynne Miller complained Glasgow’s Daily Record breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) over and article reported that a boxer had died of dehydration, as part of a training regime.

A video embedded in the online article showed the boxer discussing his training regime at Sumalee Gym, of wich the complainant is managing director.

She said the article suggested that the boxer had been training with Sumalee Gym at the time of his death, when in fact he had been with a different gym for 15 months, and that the programme he described in the video had not caused his death.

The Record said the article made clear that the video of the boxer was recorded in 2015 and denied that the article stated that the boxer had been training with Sumalee Gym when he adopted the training regime that it is claimed resulted in his death, nor that the training regime he was following at the time of his death was the same, or substantially the same, as the regime he used while at Sumalee Gym.

The paper offered to remove the video from the article and publish a clarification, which resolved the matter to the complainant’s satisfaction before IPSO made an adjudication.

The full resolution statement can be read here.

Clift v Berwickshire News

Michael Clift complained he Berwickshire News breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 12 (Discrimination) in an article which a collection of profiles of candidates who were contesting two Scottish Borders Council wards, in mid and East Berwickshire.

The article did not contain a profile from the complainant, and it said that “Michael Clift from Cockburnpath is standing as an independent in the East Berwickshire ward”.

Mr Clift said this was inaccurate as the News had made no attempt to contact him, and said it was also incorrect to report that he was from Cockburnpath.

In response, the News provided IPSO with an earlier article in which it had invited candidates to send details for a profile in a later edition, as well as a screenshot of a Facebook message it had sent to Mr Clift inviting him to participate.

It noted it had incorrectly reported where he lived, and published a clarification on this point.

The complaint was not upheld, and the full adjudication can be read here.

4 comments

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  • July 18, 2017 at 4:53 pm
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    Re the arson: Beats all comprehension that people go onto Facebook or other social media and broadcast their problems to the world but whinge if something appears in their local paper. Same old thing: There are those who think that papers should not report something unless the person concerned has given his/her “permission”. Get real.

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  • July 19, 2017 at 7:30 am
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    That’s nothing, my paper is currently getting legal letters after noting that a large local store had put “closing down” notices in its window.

    The store refused to speak to our reporter so the story just made note of it and now the owner is saying the news of the closure “was not intended to appear in the media” and has “cost him money”.

    What world do these people live in????

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  • July 19, 2017 at 3:30 pm
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    Legally, putting something on social media does not give anyone permission to use it elsewhere. It might be good manners, at the very least, to inform the person quoted of intended use. But manners and modern journalism do not mix. I am still waiting for a reply to a local editor two years ago.

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  • July 20, 2017 at 5:05 pm
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    The owner may not be the sharpest tool in the box.
    If you say somewhere is closing, people are far more likely to go and see if there are any bargains to be had.

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