ROSYLIN SINGH AGAINST HERALD ON SUNDAY

Case Number: 2302

Council Meeting: DECEMBER 2012

Verdict: Not Upheld

Publication: Herald On Sunday

Ruling Categories: Privacy
Photographs

Rosylin Singh complained about a story and photographs published in the Herald on Sunday on September 30, 2012.

She claimed that the newspaper published photos of her without her permission, both in the print and online edition.

Her complaint is not upheld.

Background
The article was headed “Short skirt scandal” and covered information from the complainant’s disciplinary hearing before the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal (HPDT). The article also included a photograph of the complainant.

The article noted the complainant had gained employment in her profession while her practicing certificate was suspended, as outlined by the HPDT and quoted the HPDT as commenting on its concerns regarding what appeared to the HPDT as “continuing concern about [the complainant’s] honesty”.

The headline “Short skirt scandal”, related to concerns expressed with the complainant’s dress style when employed at a high school, details of which were included in the HPDT’s decision. The reporter had also interviewed the complainant and photos taken at the time of that interview were used.

The complaint relates to the use of the photos. In some correspondence, the complainant stated that she did not know the photo’s had been taken and did not give permission for the photos to be used.

But in other correspondence she states that upon discussion with her daughter, she then recalled agreeing to have photos taken but requested that if the photos were used, her face not be shown.

Ms Singh’s main concern appeared to be the photo which appeared in the print edition of the newspaper. She believed that it made her look “indecent”.

The Newspaper’s Response
The editor replied that the article was about a decision from a national disciplinary body and as such had high public interest.

The newspaper reporting/photography team spent a considerable amount of time with the complainant who was “very charming and cooperative” and believed at the end that they had Ms Singh’s permission to use the photo’s she had voluntarily posed for.

Given the seriousness of the subject matter and high public interest status, the newspaper did not believe running the complainant’s story and photo was a breach of her privacy.

The paper does acknowledge that initially before the interview commenced, the complainant told the reporter and photographer that she did not want to be recognized in any photos, but as the interview progressed and the complainant voluntarily posed for photos, they believed that the complainant had changed her mind.

Discussion and Decision
This complainant stated that she did not give permission for the photo’s to be used, but the newspaper believed that she had given permission by the end of the interview.

In reading the complainant’s correspondence, it begins with the premise that she gave no permission and did not even know the photos were being taken, through to acknowledging posing for the photos and giving permission for them to be used without her face included ie bodyshot only.

The newspaper stated that at the end of the interview, the reporter and photographer believed that the complainant had given permission and voluntarily posed for photos.

The article is about a situation of high public interest and contains information both from the complainant and the HPDT decision.

Given the changing stories given by the complainant in her correspondence, and the fact that she did pose voluntarily for the photos, on the balance of probabilities, it is credible to believe that the reporter and photographer did have a genuine belief that the complainant was happy for the photos to be used in an article about her.

Accordingly, this complaint is not upheld.

Press Council members considering this complaint were Barry Paterson, Tim Beaglehole, Pip Bruce Ferguson, Kate Coughlan, Chris Darlow, Sandy Gill, Penny Harding, Keith Lees, Clive Lind and Stephen Stewart.
John Roughan took no part in the consideration of this complaint.