The unnamed woman complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Herald, Glasgow, had breached Clause 3 (Privacy) and Clause 14 (Confidential sources) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article published on the anniversary of the 7 July 2005 bombings.
It reported that she had left London following the attacks, and had now had to move again as she had been the victim of stalking.
The complainant said that she had been contacted by a freelance journalist, a man with whom she had previously worked, and agreed to an interview to discuss her experiences of the bombings, the fact that she was being stalked and her career.
She said that she had asked that no details relating to her being stalked be published because those details were “between them”, as well as agreeing with the journalist that her current location was not revealed.
About an hour after the interview the journalist rang the complainant to ask if she had reported the stalking matter to the police and she said that she told him during this conversation that the details relating to her stalking were private.
Five hours later she emailed the journalist to say that she had been thinking about the conversation and was concerned about the inclusion in the article of any reference to her being stalked.
The journalist replied saying that the story had been written and submitted to publications, and it included that the reason why the complainant had left Scotland was that she was being stalked.
He added that his understanding was that the complainant had requested that nothing in the article reveal where she was living now, and he had ensured that was the case.
The complainant acknowledged in correspondence with IPSO that it was clear from the journalist’s recollection of the conversation that he had not heard her request. The journalist told her that it was too late to remove the story from the next day’s newspaper.
The Herald said that no reader would have been able to identify the complainant’s current place of residence from the article, and it did not understand how her safety could have been compromised by the story.
It said that, if the journalist had contacted the newspaper after the complainant had raised her concerns via email, it would not necessarily have been too late to pull the story, and the editorial team could have discussed whether or not that course of action was appropriate.
At the time of publication the newspaper had no concerns about the copy, was confident that the complainant had spoken willingly to the journalist and believed that there was no risk of her place of residence being revealed.
During IPSO’s investigation became clear that the complainant had spoken about the fact that she was being stalked during a speech at a conference in 2015, as she called for unions to increase measures to protect women in the entertainment industry.
An article about that speech had been published on the website of a specialist newspaper.
IPSO found no breach of code, and also dismissed a similar complaint made by the woman against the Daily Record, which had followed up the story using The Herald’s copy.