Wayne Rooney privacy complaint over Daily Mail coverage of seven-year-old son rejected by IPSO

Footballer Wayne Rooney has had a privacy complaint brought on behalf of his seven-year-old son rejected by the Independent Press Standards Organisation.

Rooney complained about a Daily Mail story from 16 December 2016 headlined: “Rooney’s lad, 7, trains with City!”.

It reported that he had attended training with the Manchester City Football Academy, having previously attended Manchester United’s development team.

Rooney said said the story was an unwarranted intrusion into his son’s privacy. He said that while he and his wife choose to publish photographs of their children, “these were photographs that they judged to have been taken and shared in a loving context”.

He argued that “these judgments should be taken by a child’s parents, not newspapers”.

He said the story created a risk of bullying at school for his son, and placed him under “needless additional pressure in relation to his involvement in a highly competitive sporting arena”.

He added that it had led to increased attention from photographers and raised child protection issues.

The Daily Mail said it had previously been widely reported that Kai had attended training with Manchester United’s academy, which had not led to a complaint of which it was aware.

It said that note should be taken of the Rooneys’ own extensive public disclosures of information about their son on social media. Rooney has 9.1m Instagram followers and 14.1m on Twitter.

The Mail said the Rooneys had shared pictures of Kai wearing Manchester United kit and an image of him attending his first day of school.  It said that Kai had signed autographs for fans and regularly appears as a mascot before games and so has his own public profile.

Clause 6 (Children) of the Editors’ Code states:

i) All pupils should be free to complete their time at school without unnecessary intrusion.

ii) They must not be approached or photographed at school without permission of the school authorities.

iii) Children under 16 must not be interviewed or photographed on issues involving their own or another child’s welfare unless a custodial parent or similarly responsible adult consents.

iv) Children under 16 must not be paid for material involving their welfare, nor parents or guardians for material about their children or wards, unless it is clearly in the child’s interest.

v) Editors must not use the fame, notoriety or position of a parent or guardian as sole justification for publishing details of a child’s private life.

This clause can be overridden in cases where the story can be shown to be in the public interest.

IPSO said in its ruling: “The Committee noted that amongst the information established in the public domain about the child, with the complainant’s consent, was a large quantity of information that connected Kai to his father’s career and specifically to Manchester United, including his involvement as a mascot for the club.

“The complainant’s wife had also discussed the child’s interest in football, albeit in very general terms.

“In the circumstances, the Committee did not consider that the child had a reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to the bare fact of his attendance at the academy, and it did not find that the publication of this information constituted an intrusion into his time at school, such as to raise a breach of Clause 6.”

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