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Screenwriter goes to IPSO after weekly calls her ‘domestic abuse survivor’

A screenwriter took a weekly newspaper to the press watchdog after claiming it had called her a “domestic abuse survivor” against her wishes.

The woman made a complaint about the Barnsley Chronicle over its use of the term, claiming she had asked during an interview with the paper that no reference, mention or implication of any personal domestic abuse be published in any resulting story.

Her recollection conflicted with that of the Chronicle, whose reporter’s contemporaneous notes from the interview did not include any request for information to be withheld during their conversation.

The story reported on a short film written by the woman, who was described as being “a domestic abuse survivor” who had “fled domestic abuse”.


Complaining under Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 2 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, the woman, who has been granted anonymity by IPSO, claimed that during the interview with the journalist she had agreed to the story referencing the fact that she had received therapy with a charity which aims to support “people affected by domestic abuse and sexual violence”.

However, she said she did not consent to being called a “domestic abuse survivor” who “fled domestic abuse”, and that she had not described herself in this way.

In response, the Chronicle provided the reporter’s contemporaneous notes of the interview to IPSO.

It said that it had appeared during the interview that she had wanted to refer to the charity she had received therapy from, and that she had not asked for any information not to be included.

The Chronicle did not accept that she had requested for any of the information she gave during the interview not to be published, and therefore did not consider she had a reasonable expectation of privacy over the information as she had willingly given it to a journalist.

During IPSO’s investigation, the Chronicle offered to publish a clarification that the claim she had “fled domestic abuse” was not true, which resolved the matter to her satisfaction.

IPSO therefore discontinued its investigation, and the full adjudication can be read here.