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Daily justified in photographing civil partnership ceremony, IPSO rules

NewIPSOA regional daily was justified in photographing a couple’s civil partnership ceremony without their consent, the press watchdog has ruled.

Lesa Jane Beattie and Melanie Atkinson complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Belfast Telegraph breached Clause 2 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in a story about their same-sex civil ceremony.

The Bel Tel reported that the father of one of the complainants was a senior member of the Orange Order, who had attended the ceremony and walked his daughter down the aisle.

It added that his involvement may cause controversy, due to the organisation’s opposition to same-sex marriage, and included quotes from both him and other members of the Orange Order.

The article also included a photograph of the two complainants in their wedding dresses, standing outside the venue where the ceremony had taken place with the complainant’s father.

The complainants said that they were both private individuals who had not made public disclosures about their lifestyles and sexual orientation.

They were concerned that the article had only been published due to the prominent position one of their fathers held within the Orange Order, and said that this did not justify the intrusion into their private life.

They said that they had been photographed, without their consent, outside the hotel where the ceremony had taken place, which they said was a breach of their privacy.

Denying a breach of Code, the Bel Tel said that there was a clear public interest in reporting the fact that a senior member of the Orange Order had played a role in his daughter’s civil partnership ceremony, given the organisation’s public statements in opposition of same-sex relationships.

The newspaper added that this was a positive story, in which a lot of members of the organisation expressed support for the father’s decision, while he himself had also discussed his decision with a sister publication.

In the Bel Tel’s view, the photograph had not been taken in circumstances were the complainants had a reasonable expectation of privacy, adding that by the time it had decided to publish the photograph, the couple had published photographs of them together at the event on their publicly viewable social media accounts.

IPSO found the complainants’ expectation of privacy, if any, was limited, and also recognised the genuine public interest in reporting on the attendance of a high-profile member of the Orange Order at the event, given the organisation’s comments on same-sex relationships.

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

Other recent IPSO cases involving regional newspapers include:

McGurk v Edinburgh Evening News

Cara McGurk complained to IPSO that Edinburgh Evening News breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy), Clause 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock) and Clause 6 (Children) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article reported on the sudden death of a young child.

The complainant, the child’s paternal aunt, said that publication had been handled insensitively and expressed concern that the newspaper had published details concerning the child, which had not been formally released by the police, and without parental consent.

She said that the publication of the article had caused further distress at a difficult time for the family, and had been intrusive.

The Evening News said the emphasis of the article was on tributes to the child and expressions of sympathy towards the family, adding no pictures were used in the report which might be considered intrusive, while only a general photograph of the street and a library picture of an ambulance had been published.

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

Stein v The Herald

Por-Israeli activist Sammy Stein complained to IPSO that Glasgow-based daily The Herald breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in a comment piece had applied to join the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Palestine, but had been refused entry to “what is an essentially a private body deeply opposed to his world view”.

Mr Stein said the article gave an inaccurate account of his views because he supported the group.

Mr Stein had written a column in the publication on the same day in which he set out his view that his rejection from the group “raises serious concerns about the extent to which CPGs… can operate without public scrutiny or governance and arbitrarily expel and exclude anyone”, and The Herald had inferred from this that he objected to the very nature of the groups.

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

McKay v The Chronicle, Newcastle

Narry McKay complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Chronicle, Newcastle, breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 3 (Harassment) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article which reported that a famous rock band had paid £100,000 to a local musician in order to settle a song lyric copyright claim.

Mr McKay said that the article was misleading as it downplayed his involvement in the case, adding it was inaccurate to state that he had “helped bring” the suit, as in fact, he was the claimant in the case.

The Chronicle said the article made clear Mr McKay’s involvement in the claim, and provided copies of the settlement deed, which named both him and the songwriter as parties.

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

Burton v Lincolnshire Live

Kristy Burton complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Lincolnshire Live breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy), Clause 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article which reported she had been the victim of an attack by a mental health patient while working as a nurse.

Ms Burton had spoken about the attack in a video shown at a board meeting of the hospital trust, but said she had not been consulted about the article or given her permission for its publication.

Lincolnshire Live said that the information contained in the article was released at a meeting of the hospital trust’s board, which was open for the public to attend.

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

Churchill v Bournemouth Echo

Sarah Churchill complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Bournemouth Echo breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article which featured unattributed quotes from her criticising the meal choices on a school trip.

Ms Chuurchill said she believed the school should not have been named in the article, adding she believed the online headline ‘Junk food for lunch at St Mary’s First School in West Moors’ was inaccurate because the food had not been served by the school.

The Echo said it was entitled to name the school which the incident had occurred at, and believed the article made clear the nature of the relationship between the school and the supplier.

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

Howeson v Plymouth Herald

Emma Howeson, acting on behalf of her husband Charles Howeson, complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Plymouth Herald breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article which reported on a court case involving him.

Mrs Howeson expressed concern that the Herald had inaccurately reported comments made by her husband’s QC in mitigation in court, saying he had not said that Mr Howeson had been left “deeply ashamed”, but rather that he had had been “deeply shamed”.

She said the inaccuracy had given the significantly misleading impression that her husband had admitted guilt when he had always maintained his innocence.

The Herald said it had correctly quoted the QC who had used the phrase “deeply ashamed” in court, but that the context in which it was said was not as clear as it should have been in the article, and offered to publish a clarification in print to address this point.

This resolved the matter to Mrs Howeson’s satisfaction, and the full resolution statement can be found here.

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  • September 11, 2018 at 12:43 pm
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    Not sure about civil partnerships, or about taking photos, but isn’t it the case that all marriage ceremonies in England actually have to be open to the public – regardless of invitation, of who is marrying or how lavish the event – so that ‘if anyone knows any lawful impediment’ not spotted when notice was given to the registrar they can, technically, pipe up?

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