A dead man’s mother has lost her complaint against a regional daily which reported he had died by suicide.
The Yorkshire Post had stated the man’s cause of death in a story based on a press release by a mental health charity, for which it had also interviewed his surviving partner.
However, Jessica Evison took exception to the Leeds-based Post’s coverage of her son’s death, claiming it was inaccurate in reporting that her son had “died by suicide” because no inquest had yet been held.
But the Independent Press Standards Organisation found following an investigation that the Post had taken appropriate steps to corroborate the partner’s claims.
Complaining under Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 3 (Harassment), Clause 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock), Clause 5 (Reporting of suicide), Clause 6 (Children) and Clause 12 (Discrimination), Ms Evison also claimed it was inaccurate to claim that her son had “struggled” with depression.
While she accepted that he had been diagnosed with depression a short time before his death, this did not constitute a struggle.
Denying a breach of Code, the Post said it had told the partner’s story and recorded her account of the life and death of her partner in good faith.
It emphasised that she had a right to speak out about his death and said the fact that Ms Evison disagreed with her account did not make it inaccurate.
The Post’s reporter had corroborated the fact that the son had died by checking an online obituary and funeral notice as well.
Neither source of information contradicted the notion that the son had died from suicide and the funeral notice encouraged donations to a mental health charity.
In any event, the Post said the disputed claim could not be significantly inaccurate where no finding had yet been made by the coroner on this point.
During IPSO’s investigation, it also provided confirmation from the police that the death was not treated as suspicious and that there was currently no active police investigation into the death.
Nonetheless, on becoming aware of Mss Evison’s concerns, the Post removed the article and also offered to publish a statement from the complainant when it covered her son’s inquest.
While the disputed claim was presented as a statement of fact, IPSO concluded the context around it was a story that was clearly based on the account of the woman, who was presented by a registered charity as a case study of someone who had lost their partner to suicide.
The piece had been presented as her story, illustrating broader concerns about mental health in the farming community, and made no reference to an inquest nor implied that there had been an official finding about the cause of death.
Further, IPSO found had taken steps to corroborate her claims including checking publicly available information about the death.
The complaint was not upheld, and the full adjudication can be read here.