The press watchdog has dismissed a complaint of harassment against a weekly newspaper photographer – after records showed he was in Spain at the time.
Miss M Flowers complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation claiming a North Wales Pioneer trainee reporter and photographer had breached her privacy – despite a North Wales Police investigation finding no evidence of such wrongdoing.
Miss Flowers said that the pair had offered to pay members of the public to take pictures of her in Llandudno, while the photographer had also followed her and photographed her in a car park in the seaside town.
However she claimed the incidents took place in July 2016, before the reporter in question was employed by the Pioneer, and September of the same year, when office records showed the photographer was on holiday in Spain.
Further incidents were alleged to have taken place in December and January, on dates when the reporter, who lives 20 miles away from Llandudno, was based at its Colwyn Bay office.
Miss Flowers had also complained to the North Wales Police regarding the alleged harassment, but they concluded there was no evidence to support the allegations.
Complaining to IPSO under Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 3 (Harassment) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, Miss Flowers said there was no justifiable public interest in her being followed and photographed.
But in response, the Pioneer said she had not been the subject of any newsworthy activity which would lead to attempts to contact or photograph her, and that a search of its archives found no record of her name ever appearing in the publication.
The paper said the reporter was a trainee under strict supervision at the times and dates of the alleged incidents, and that she rarely left the office due to her inexperience.
It added that the photographer lives in a remote part of Snowdonia from where it would be difficult to take public transport to Llandudno, and that his only car, a company car, was fitted with a tracker which demonstrated he had not been in Llandudno on any of the dates in question.
IPSO said in its ruling: “The newspaper had been able to provide a detailed account, by reference to GPS technology and employment records, to show that the journalist and photographer were not in close proximity to Llandudno on the dates in question.
“In such circumstances, the Committee did not consider that there was credible basis to believe that the journalist or the photographer had engaged in harassing behaviour, or persistently followed and photographed the complainant.”
The complaint was not upheld, and the full adjudication can be read here.