Complaints by a former cafe manager that a story in the Scottish Sun was inaccurate and breached her right to privacy have been rejected by Ipso, the Independent Press Standards Organisation.
Angelia Yorke complained that a story published in the paper on 27 March, breached clause one and two of the Editors’ Code of Practice, covering accuracy and privacy.
The article appeared online under the headline “The Lotto you have been axed: £148 million jackpot winner leaves 21 staff on jobs scrapheap”.
The piece said a lottery winner had closed her cafe without warning, leaving 21 staff without jobs.
It reported that the woman’s friend had said the cafe was closed on compassionate grounds, as the manager – who was not named – was suffering from stress, which was affecting her health.
Ms Yorke said she had been the manager at the cafe, and it was inaccurate to report she was stressed.
She spoke to the journalist prior to publication, and made clear it was untrue she had suffered from stress but was prevented from giving further information by a confidentiality agreement, she said, adding that details about her health were private.
The said the story was a legitimate investigation into the closure of a business owned by a public figure.
Readers would not have been able to identify Ms Yorke from the article, unless they already knew that she was the cafe’s manager, and would recognise that one member of staff being stressed was not a valid reason for closing a business – and know to be critical of the cafe owner’s claims.
The cafe owner’s friend, who was speaking on her behalf at the time, had told the journalist that the cafe was closed because the manager was suffering from stress.
It said Ms Yorke was given every opportunity to give her side of the story before publication, but had said that she could not as she was “locked into a contract”.
The journalist was later contacted by Ms Yorke’s husband, who said he would talk to a lawyer about a form of words for publication, but did not hear from him further, said the newspaper.
It added the published article included two denials of the stress claim, and reported that “last night the tea room’s manager said the claims about her having stress were ‘untrue’. She refused to comment further.”
Ipso’s complaints committee said the newspaper was entitled to report the cafe owner’s stated reasons for closing the business, and in doing so had reported Ms Yorke’s stress as a claim.
The committee said the tone of the article had cast doubt on whether the owner’s statement represented the full story and that it did not identify Ms Yorke, and included her denial of the cafe owner’s account.
There was no failure to take care over the accuracy of the article, and no failure to distinguish between comment and fact, said Ipso.
It acknowledged Ms Yorke’s distress about the inclusion of references to the manager suffering from “stress”, but said she was not named in the article (although she might have been identifiable to those who knew her), which had not included details about her health beyond the claim that she was “finding the job quite stressful and it’s affecting her health”.
There was some – albeit limited – public interest in reporting the reasons the owner gave for closing the business. In the circumstances, set against the limited nature of any intrusion, there was found to be no breach of the code.