A Man and the Irish Daily Star
The Press Ombudsman has upheld a complaint by a man that the Irish Daily Star breached Principle 5 (Privacy) and Principle 9 (Children) of the Code of Practice of the Press Council of Ireland.
The Irish Daily Star published an article on an inquest into the deaths of two people in a shooting. The article named the complainant as the intended target of the killers. The article was accompanied by a photograph of the complainant holding his infant child. The child was clearly visible and identifiable.
A solicitor representing the complainant stated “(t)he unauthorised publication of the photograph of (her) client’s son represented a serious breach under Principle 5 of (her) client’s and his son’s right to privacy and right to privacy of family life having regard to the circumstances within which the photograph was taken and the content of the article accompanying the photograph”. The solicitor stated that the photograph had been taken at the funeral of one of the victims of the shooting. The solicitor went on to state that the publication of the photograph was also a breach of Principle 9 as the publication of the image of the child was “wholly unnecessary”. Principle 9 requires the press to “have regard for the vulnerability of children”.
A solicitor representing the Irish Daily Star responded to the complaint and stated that “although not legally obliged to do so, we will remove the images of your client’s son from its photographic archive and will not make use of this particular image of your client holding his son in the future”. The solicitor went on to state the complainant “must have known full well … that there were photographers from all media present” at the funeral and that his privacy had not been breached by the publication of his photograph taken at the funeral. In regard to the publication of the photograph of the child the solicitor stated “a child of your client’s son’s age does not have any appreciation of nor are any privacy rights engaged”
As the complaint could not be resolved by conciliation it was forwarded to the Press Ombudsman for a decision.
The report published in the Irish Daily Star of an image of a child in his father’s arms was a clear breach of Principle 5. There was no justification for publishing the photograph of the child. There was no public interest whatsoever in the publication of this photograph.
The publication of the photograph was also a breach of Principle 9. Children are defined as those under “the age of 16”. That the child is, in this complaint, an infant is no justification for the publication of the photograph. The child had nothing whatsoever to do with the subject matter of the report and his image should not have been published.
Note: The complainant has exercised his right under data protection legislation to have this decision reported in an anonymous form.
6 April 2018