Clauses Noted: 3, 6
Publication: Hartlepool Mail
Mrs Beverley Palmer of Hartlepool, Cleveland, complained that the Hartlepool Mail published a photograph of her daughter in breach of Clause 4 (Privacy) of the Code of Practice. The Commission also considered the complaint under Clause 12 (Interviewing and photographing children). The complainant explained that her extreme concern was for her child's safety since her other daughter had been murdered. She indicated that the newspaper had promised never to publish her surviving child's facial image. The photograph of the complainant and her daughter was taken in public outside the place of the funeral of a family friend and she believed a long lens had been used. She had given no consent and considered that including them in the funeral coverage was gratuitous.
The late editor responded that normally he would not have hesitated to apologise to the complainant for use of the photograph, but that legal issues prevented him from doing so at the time. He agreed that publication had been inappropriate although he was unclear whether a promise had been made by any of his staff never to use the girl's picture. On the day of publication the offending picture in the first edition was removed from the larger, second edition. He also confirmed that he had taken action to ensure that the newspaper did not again publish the child's photograph.
The terms of any agreement that may have been made between the complainant and the newspaper were not a matter for consideration under the Code. The selection of material in relation to the occasion concerned was a matter of discretion for the editor. Nor was it significant that the published picture may have been taken by long-lens photography as it was clearly taken in public. The Commission did not therefore uphold the complaint under Clause 4.
Clearly, however, the child was photographed without the permission of her parent in a matter involving her welfare. The Code does not allow such photography, and while the Commission noted the removal of the picture from the second edition, it upheld the complaint under Clause 12.
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