Agency boss: Press regulator IPSO being used as a 'tool by celebrities' to 'kill' legitimate photographs

A picture agency boss has claimed that the Independent Press Standards Organisation is being “use as a tool by celebrities” to scare publications off using legitimate photographs.

Vantage News sought to sell images of a TV presenter on holiday with her rock-star husband. Two magazines bought the images, but then retracted their offer to use them after receiving an advisory notice from IPSO.

The notice made various publications aware that the individual felt the photos were taken in circumstances where they had a reasonable expectation of privacy. IPSO made editors aware of her position and also asked them to note clause 2 (privacy) of the Editors’ Code and clause 6 (children).

The images have not appeared in any UK newspapers or magazines.

Joe Sene, managing director of Vantage News, told Press Gazette there are no private beaches on the island where the couple were pictured. And he said that any pictures including their children carried an advisory notice telling UK publications to blur their faces.

Sene said he asked IPSO if he could have right of reply to the advisory note, pointing out his position that he did not think the pictures were a breach of privacy. And he said this was refused.

He also noted that the celebrity shared her own pictures of the 'private' holiday on her public social media profiles.

He said: “IPSO is being used as a tool by celebrities and their legal representatives to scare publications off from publishing certain pictures or stories without offering the opportunity for the other side to put their case across. I emailed the two magazines directly but of course an email from IPSO carries much more weight. 

“Whilst I wholeheartedly support the aims of IPSO to provide advisories and mediation, particularly on behalf of members of the public who have legitimate claims, does it not seem grossly unfair that it can be used to prevent publication of images that were not got by any illegal means? Furthermore, it provides people who don't have legitimate complaints, as in this instance, with the opportunity to kill a set of pictures for free.”

IPSO directed Press Gazette to the advice contained on its website which states: “We will be happy to give you specific advice, tailored to your circumstances, about how the Editors' Code applies to your situation and how we can help.

“While IPSO does not have the formal power to stop a newspaper or magazine from publishing a story or from continuing to ask you questions, in some cases IPSO is able to contact individual publications or groups of publications to make them aware of your concerns that the Editors' Code of Practice is being breached or may be breached, via a private advisory notice”

A spokesman said: “IPSO does not comment on the contents of any private advisory notice it issues.”

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