Ms Jacqueline Hagemann and Sundayworld.com
The Press Ombudsman has not upheld a complaint made by Ms Jacqueline Hagemann that the Sundayworld.com breached Principle 1 (Truth and Accuracy), Principle 3 (Fair Procedures and Honesty), Principle 5 (Privacy) and Principle 9 (Children) of the Code of Practice of the Press Council of Ireland.
The Sundayworld.com in January 2017 published an article about Ms Hagemann. The article stated she had previously been married to a well-known criminal and was now married to Mr Louis Hagemann. The article included details of Mr Hagemann’s criminal convictions. The article was not published in the print edition of the Sunday World.
Ms Hagemann complained to the editor of the Sundayworld.com that the article was inaccurate and that it had jeopardised her children and herself and that her family was now living in fear. She claimed that she had been approached by a journalist who said that he was researching a story about her husband and the death of a woman. The journalist, she claimed, had arrived at her doorstep “without any invitation”
As Ms Hagemann did not receive a response from the Sundayworld.com she made a complaint to the Office of the Press Ombudsman. She claimed the article breached Principles 1, 3, 5 and 9 of the Code of Practice.
The editor of the Sundayworld.com in his submission to the Office of the Press Ombudsman stated that the information published about Ms Hagemann was in the public domain and had been published by other media outlets and that the article had been taken down off the Sundayworld.com when requested to do so. The editor claimed that the article had not breached any Principles of the Code of Practice.
Ms Hagemann responded to this submission and stated that she had never requested the article be taken down off the Sundayworld.com and repeated her belief that, in particular, Principle 3.2 had been breached.
Principle 3.2 states
The press shall not obtain information, photographs or other material through misrepresentation or subterfuge, unless justified by the public interest.
As it was not possible to resolve this complaint by conciliation it was forwarded to the Press Ombudsman for a decision.
I am not upholding this complaint. I have been provided with no evidence that there was any inaccuracy in the article in its account of Ms Hagemann and therefore Principle 1 was not breached.
In regard to Principle 3 Ms Hagemann stated that the journalist approached her claiming that he was researching a report into her husband and the death of a woman. The article that was subsequently published was slight and made only a passing reference to the death of the woman. However, I cannot conclude from this that the journalist used misrepresentation or subterfuge in his approach to Ms Hagemann.
I can find no breach of Principle 5 as the information in the article was already on the public record. I can certainly sympathise with Ms Hagemann’s concern about her family’s safety but do not believe that her privacy was breached.
I can find no evidence of any breach of Principle 9. Ms Hagemann did not provide any information on her children and therefore it is impossible to conclude that there was any disregard for the vulnerability of children as required in Principle 9.
The differences of opinion about whether or not Ms Hagemann requested that the article be taken down off the Sundayworld.com is not relevant to my determination that the Code of Practice was not breached by the publication of the article that led to Ms Hagemann’s complaint.
13 April 2017