It wasn’t off limits for The Sunday Mirror to report on Lee Rigby’s former fiancee’s private life, but the newspaper did make errors while doing so, the UK print regulator the Independent Press Standards Organisation ruled.
Rigby, a British soldier, was publicly murdered on the street in London in 2013 by terrorists.
The Mirror reported April 12 that Rigby’s former fiance Aimee West was dating one of Rigby’s army friends Major Paul Draper. The story was headlined: “Murdered soldier Lee Rigby’s fiancée ‘finds happiness’ with his army pal.”
Both West and Draper complained to IPSO that the article invaded their privacy, wasn’t in the public interest, harassed them and was inaccurate. IPSO dismissed all but the accuracy complaint.
West, for example, told IPSO “her friends and family had not known about the relationship” before the Mirror‘s story. She also argued she was a private person and not famous, pointing out that her previous interviews in the media were only about Rigby and a charity established in his name.
West ignored the reporter’s attempts to contact her, with her mother telling the reporter she was away, whereas Draper called the Mirror‘s reporter back after receiving five phone calls and the reporter showing up at his work. Draper called the reporter with West sitting next to him, without the reporter’s knowledge. He told the reporter that the pair were “very good friends” and not in a relationship.
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However, Draper said the Mirror never asked him about specific claims in the article, which IPSO agreed was a failure to check facts. After publication, both Draper and West pointed out several errors, including Draper’s age, whether the two attended a service together, whether they had “been on several dates,” and what West’s job position is.
The Mirror posted several corrections to respond to those errors. The lengthy correction reads:
“On 12.04.2015 under the headline “Lee Rigby’s fiancée finds happiness with his army pal” we published an article about Maj Paul Draper and Ms Aimee West. We would like to clarify the following: Maj Draper is not 51, he is 50. Ms West and Maj Draper did not attend a service to honour fallen soldiers in Afghanistan at St Paul’s Cathedral together. Ms West denies that she and Maj Draper have been on several dates. Ms West is not a staff sergeant with 19 Company of the ACF. Mr Rigby was not in Manchester when Ms West tried to call him and was not attached to a cadet unit led by Maj Draper’s ex-partner.”
IPSO noted it previously ruled on this matter back in July but the newspaper appealed the decision to provide more information. iMediaEthics asked IPSO what the original ruling was and what supplementary information the Mirror provided, but IPSO said “as a matter of policy, we choose not to disclose what extra information was provided by either party involved in any complaint and likewise, what draft decision each case might have had during the course of an investigation.”
IPSO noted that “the complaints process allows for either side to appeal all or part of any ruling.”
iMediaEthics has written to the Mirror for comment.