A weekly newspaper has paid compensation to a woman over a photograph of her which was taken in public.
Nosheen Asaf took issue with the Midlothian Advertiser after a picture of her wearing a face mask was used to accompany a story about local coronavirus infection rates.
However, publication of the photo prompted Ms Asaf to complain to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, claiming it would lead the Advertiser’s readers would believe that she had Covid-19.
The photo had been taken on a public street and the Advertiser said the image was intended to illustrate life in the local community during lockdown, adding its photographer had not used a hidden camera – contrary to claims made by Ms Asaf in her complaint.
But Ms Asaf did not accept this explanation and said she would only be willing to resolve the complaint should the Advertiser pay compensation directly to her.
The matter was then resolved after the Advertiser offered to pay Ms Asaf £100 and print an apology in the paper.
In her initial complaint to IPSO under Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy), Clause 10 (Clandestine devices and subterfuge), and Clause 12 (Discrimination) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, Ms Asaf said she had been approached by family members and friends who had seen the story and, consequently, believed that she had Covid-19.
She said that she did not consent to the photograph being taken or published, and further said that she believed it had been taken while she was queueing outside a medical clinic.
Ms Asaf also claimed the photo had been taken using a concealed camera and believed she had been singled out due to her ethnicity.
The Advertiser apologised for any distress caused to Ms Asaf by the publication of her photo and accepted that the use of the image in conjunction with the story’s headline, ‘County now has second highest Covid-19 rate’, had the potential to mislead readers into believing that she had Covid-19.
It said the photo had not been taken outside a medical centre, but rather on a High Street, and provided IPSO with photographs to demonstrate that this was the case.
The Advertiser added its photographer had not used a hidden camera and emphasised the photo was not published with the intention to single-out Ms Asaf due to her ethnicity, nor to discriminate against her.
In response, Ms Asaf reiterated that she had not been aware that a photograph had been taken of her and said that she did not consider this tallied with the Advertiser’s explanation of how the photograph was taken – adding her demand for compensation at this point.
IPSO discontinued its investigation into the matter after Ms Asaf accepted the paper’s offer of compensation and a printed correction.
The full resolution statement can be read here.