A UK newspaper reported about a two-year-old child’s leukemia diagnosis, treatment and family. But, the mother of the child never consented to the article or the photos that were published of her child.
Because of that, the article and photos were an invasion of privacy, the UK press regulator the Independent Press Standards Organisation ruled.
The woman and her child weren’t named in the IPSO ruling.
The Aug. 2019 article by South Shropshire Journal included information about the child’s condition and family members, and gave information about a crowdfunding campaign for the child. Though the source for the story was a family member, the mother of the child complained, saying she had been trying to keep the diagnosis private. She added the crowdfunding page was set up without her consent and she had asked for it to be removed. Further, she said the family member “felt pressured into giving the story and was not acting on her behalf or with her consent,” IPSO reported.
In its defense, the South Shropshire Journal claimed the relative interviewed for the article told the reporter that the mother approved the story but wasn’t “up for speaking.” It also argued it was OK to publish the article because of the crowdfunding page and noted the mother had “commented on, liked, and shared posts” about it.
“Following the complaint, the publication had spoken to all staff to reiterate that explicit permission from a parent or legal guardian must be obtained when covering similar stories in the future. It ensured that the article did not appear online and offered to publish a statement explaining what had happened, why the article was published, and apologising for the distress caused,” IPSO said.
iMediaEthics asked the Journal‘s editor, Peter Kitchen, if it published that statement. He responded, “I can confirm that, following the original complaint, we offered to publish a statement in the South Shropshire Journal. But the family did not agree to our offer.”
According to IPSO, its press guidelines mandate journalists get permission from a parent or guardian before reporting on a child’s medical diagnosis. And, even though there was some information about the child’s condition on the crowdfunding page, there were other private details about the child published which weren’t in the public interest, IPSO said.
IPSO ordered the publication to publish its ruling against it on page 2.