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Photographs help defend Daily Record reporters against IPSO 'harassment' complaint

Photographs helped prove that a Daily Record reporter and a photographer did not harass two people outside a court as claimed in a complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation.

IPSO ruled the journalists’ brief interaction with Jill Sharp and her friend Craig Hale outside Livingston Sheriff Court near Edinburgh on 1 April could not be considered a “persistent pursuit”.

Sharp and Hale complained to IPSO that they were followed as they ran some 75 yards from the court to their car and that the reporter shouted questions while the photographer tried to take a photo of Sharp’s face.

The pair also claimed the photographer forced his camera lens inside their car, stopping Sharp from closing her door, while the journalist had yelled that they had “one last chance” to defend themselves before the story ran.

Sharp said she told the journalists to “go away”  and found their behaviour threatening, which left them feeling upset and harassed.

Hale and Sharp complained to IPSO under Clause 3 (harassment) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

The newspaper challenged their version of events and produced the photographer’s full set of pictures from the incident, showing he had remained ten feet away at all times.

It said neither journalists shouted at the couple, and that only the reporter spoke to inform them the newspaper was planning to run a story.

The newspaper did not accept its journalists had acted unprofessionally but said it was sorry to hear Sharp and Hale had been upset by the encounter.

In its ruling, IPSO’s Complaints Committee said the fact the complainants put their hoods over their heads to obscure their faces “did not amount to a request that the photographer desist from photographing them”.

It said the photos provided by the Daily Record meant there was “insufficient basis” to find the journalists had ignored the a request to stop once the complainants had reached their car.

IPSO said the short distance between the court and the car meant the interaction was brief, and that although the journalists followed the complainants this could not be considered a “persistent pursuit”.

“Further, the complainants alleged that the reporter and photographer’s conduct was intimidating – however, the photographs provided by the publication showed that the photographer was consistently at least ten feet away from the complainants and the last photograph showed the photographer standing at a distance as the complainants were closing the car door.

“The photographs did not appear to show the reporter shouting, or any physical contact between the reporter and photographer and the complainants.

IPSO’s Complaints Committee said it was satisfied that by photographing and approaching the complainants for comment, the reporter and photographer “had not engaged in intimidation, harassment or persistent pursuit” under the terms of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

The complaint was not upheld.

Read the full ruling here.

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