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Weekly cleared after selling photo of children to estranged relative

ipso-green-320A weekly newspaper has avoided censure after a mother complained over a photograph of her children it sold to an estranged relative.

Charmain McInally said she had not given consent for her children to appear in the North Norfolk News and that it was “unacceptable” for the paper to sell prints of them to the public without checks being undertaken first.

She complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation over the issue after the photo was sold to an estranged relative of hers against her wishes.

But the watchdog said commercial transactions made by newspapers did not fall within its remit and refused to uphold the complaint.

Ms McInally had complained to IPSO under Clause 6 (Children) of the Editors’ Code about an article which reported on a ‘comic-book hero’ party organised by a local nursery.

The complainant, whose two children did not attend the organising nursery, accompanied them to the party, but said that she was unaware that their photograph had been taken and had not given consent for it to be published.

The News denied a breach of code, citing a Norfolk County Council policy which ensures that children with safeguarding issues are not photographed at any event that could involve media coverage.

It said while it was sorry that the complainant was unaware that photographs were being taken at the event, it had been invited by the nursery to attend and had not, in line with the policy, been alerted by the nursery to any individuals it should not photograph.

The Archant-owned News added that it could not remember a situation where people wishing to purchase photographs from the paper had been an issue in the past, but said it understood the complainanats unhappiness about the issue and had deleted the picture in question from its archives.

IPSO said the photo had been taken at a party in a community centre which the newspaper had been invited to by the nursery, and did not concern an issue involving the children’s welfare or intrude into their time at school.

While the Committee noted the complainant’s unhappiness about the News selling photographs of her children without permission, this was a commercial transaction separate from the newspaper’s publication of editorial content which did not engage the Code or fall within IPSO’s remit.

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


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  • October 17, 2016 at 9:37 am

    I think the newspaper has gotten off lightly over this issue, and only because IPSO seems to be sitting on the fence in terms of declining to make a ruling. When I worked on regional newspapers we were always extra careful about taking photos of children. And it’s not really a defence to say they were invited by the nursery as the nursery could not give consent for everyone attending. This woman clearly did not know her children were being photographed, never mind the photo being published and then sold. The parent of every child whose picture was taken should have been asked for their permission. And IPSO’s lack of a decision does not get them off the hook.

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  • October 17, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    @Ex-journo. Actually it does fall on the nursery (or any organiser if they are inviting a press photographer) to get consent.

    Most nurseries/schools will ask parents when kids join if they are happy to have pictures taken. the issue here appears to be that the woman’s children did not attend the nursery which is why she had not given prior permission. My wife’s job involves putting these pracises in place for schools in our area and often when photographers arrive there is someone there with a list of names to enusre those without permission are not photographed.

    The onus is put on the nursery in these cases as when the photographer has turned up most, if not all parents, may have left the party.

    In an ideal world your scenario would be perfect but it the real world we have the best options available.

    Oh and IPSO did rule on whether the paper acted irresponsibly: “IPSO said the photo had been taken at a party in a community centre which the newspaper had been invited to by the nursery, and did not concern an issue involving the children’s welfare or intrude into their time at school.”

    That suggests it agreed with the paper’s defence.

    It only did not rule on the selling of the photograph later, which seems to be the complainant’s biggest issue.

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  • October 20, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    The type of issue whichwill become more common with the removal of editors and senior subs and a reliance on inexperienced staff and ‘content curators’ ( the name alone makes me cringe)
    As ‘ex regional journo’ says Archant have got away with this lightly,next time it maybe more costly.
    The only good thing is with only 5,500 copies sold it won’t have been seen by many local people.

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