IPSO says Mail on Sunday report of Nigel Farage police interview was not privacy breach

The Independent Press Standards Organisation has rejected a privacy complaint over a Mail on Sunday report that Nigel Farage (pictured, Reuters) had been questioned by police.

Adam Richardson, “acting on behalf of” Farage, complained to the press regulator under clause three (privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice over the 21 June story headlined “Police quiz Farage over claims ‘ex-lover’ falsely accused Tory MP of sexually assaulting her”.

The newspaper reported “sources” as saying Farage had taken part in a “lively” interview with police over claims that this “alleged ex-mistress” made a false allegation of sexual assault against a Conservative MP.

The complainant said information from within the police interview was, “by its nature, confidential and private”, according to IPSO.

The regulator said the complainant argued: “The interview had nothing to do with Mr Farage’s position as UKIP party leader. His professional role did not mean that reports on all aspects of his life could be justified in ‘the public interest’. He considered that it was clear that the information had been provided by a police officer.”

The Mail on Sunday told IPSO it had previously reported on the case and said Farage was likely to be interviewed about the matter. “The newspaper said this was a story about an official police inquiry into matters that related to the conduct of public figures.

“In this context, it considered that Mr Farage had a reduced expectation of privacy regarding his involvement. It said there was evidently a strong public interest in elements of the case, which had involved considerable amounts of police and prosecution time, and public money.”

IPSO said the newspaper “saw no reason why the fact of the interview should not be reported” and pointed out it reported on no details of the content of the interview. IPSO said the newspaper argued: “It made clear that he had not been interviewed under caution, and there had been no suggestion that he was guilty of any wrongdoing. The details about the tone of the interview would come as no surprise to anyone who had observed Mr Farage in his public life. It said the complainant’s assertion that the information had been provided by a police officer was incorrect.”

IPSO said the “fact that Mr Farage had been interviewed by police was not in itself private information” and that it “recognises that there is a public interest in the reporting of police investigations”.

The regulator said: “Although details of an individual’s demeanour and conduct during a police interview are potentially sensitive in nature, the limited details published by the newspaper in this instance were not intrusive. The article had also contained no suggestion that Mr Farage had done anything wrong. Nor had it disclosed any of the information given during the interview. The complaint under Clause 3 was not upheld.”

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