AddThis SmartLayers

Watchdog rejects complaint by mum who ‘swayed’ on school run

NewIPSOA woman who carried out a school run while four and a half times the legal drink drive limit has had her complaint against a city website rejected.

Edinburgh Live reported on the case of Debbie Lightfoot who had appeared for sentencing after previously pleading guilty to driving while over the limit.

Under the headline “West Lothian mum ‘slurred her words and swayed’ during school run”, the site reported that Ms Lightfoot had “admitted doing the school run while four and a half times the legal drink drive limit”, and that she was seen “’swaying’ and ‘unsteady on her feet’” after she arrived by car at the school.

Ms Lightfoot complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation under Clauses 1 (Accuracy), 2 (Privacy) and 3 (Harassment) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

She claimed that she had been unsteady on her feet for medical reasons, which were not referenced in the story, and that no eyewitnesses had seen her arriving by car.

However in relation to Clause 1, Edinburgh Live said she had not disputed that its account of the incident was an accurate reflection of what was heard in court, rather that she disputed the accuracy of what was heard by the court.

Ms Lightfoot further claimed that the article breached Clause 2 because it contained photographs of her leaving court which she had not consented to being taken, and was in breach of Clause 3 because the journalist had not stopped photographing her when she asked him to.

The publication did not accept publishing an image of the complainant outside court constituted a breach of Clause 2 because Ms Lightfoot had no reasonable expectation of privacy, and that no request to desist from taking photographs had been made.

In its ruling, IPSO’s Code Committee said the website’s obligation was to report accurately what was heard in court; it was not responsible for the accuracy of what was heard by the court.

The complainant did not dispute the article was an accurate report of what had been heard during the court proceedings and as such, there was no failure to take care over the accuracy of the report and no breach of Clause 1.

The Committee agreed that the complainant had no reasonable expectation of privacy when stood outside the courtroom, and hence no breach of Clause 2, and that there was insufficient evidence to find a breach of Clause 3.

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