Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code of Practice is quite clear that newspapers must take care not to publish "inaccurate, misleading or distorted material, including pictures". But what does this mean in terms of images?
The Commission recently received a complaint from solicitors on behalf of the actor David Walliams, who was concerned that London Lite had published a composite picture showing him and the model, Peta Todd, without informing readers that it was a montage of two separate images.
The newspaper argued that readers were unlikely to be misled substantively because Mr Walliams and Ms Todd had been in each other's company on the evening in question. A montage, showing the pair walking closely next to each other, had been used because it illustrated the story more neatly than any of the single photos that were available (and that didn't show the pair in such close proximity).
However, the Commission has always been clear on this issue. In A man v Luton on Sunday, which was about another composite image, the Commission previously said that "editors must make clear to readers when they have altered photographs in any material way. If they are unsure about whether their changes are significant they should incline towards transparency and declare that the image has been altered or artificially assembled". It concluded that the case "raised a point of principle to which the Commission attaches high importance".The Walliams case was successfully resolved when the newspaper agreed to publish a correction and apology. But is a useful reminder that even where the use of a composite picture may seem a neat solution to illustrating a story, if it isn't labelled as such, it can raise a breach of the Code of Practice.