Pictures of David and Victoria Beckham’s new UK home, which were published by Mail Online, did not breach the famous couple’s right to privacy under the Editor’s Code of Conduct, it has been ruled.
The Beckhams complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) over the story, published on 6 March, which reported on renovations to the property.
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It identified the general area where the house was located, the name of the town it was close to, and a landmark which it was near. Included were ten photographs of the property taken from a number of different angles.
In their complaint to IPSO, filed under clause two (privacy) of the code, the Beckhams said the pictures “must have been taken by trespassing on private land”.
They added that the article and some of the photographs not only depicted what would become their family home, it had also clearly identified its location to “millions of readers”.
They said that they had a “reasonable expectation of privacy” regarding their home. They said this was particularly important because they intended to raise their children at the property “free from the media scrutiny to which they are subjected in many other aspects of their lives”.
The couple said that “due to their profile, the identification of their private family homes had given rise to serious security issues in the past, which had meant that they had been forced to take a number of preventative measures, including employing private security contractors”.
The couple complained there was no public interest in publishing the information about their home.
Mail Online said the photographs had been taken from a public place, without trespassing on to the property, and that the article did not reveal any “new” information about it.
It said d photographs of the property had previously been published by other newspapers, many of which had identified the house’s approximate location in a similar fashion.
It highlighted one article in particular that had identified the precise road where the house was located, “over and beyond” what it and other newspapers had done.
It said the article went no further than simply saying where the property was close to and that the photographs were “closely cropped to the buildings” and gave “very little context beyond a field and some trees”.
As a gesture of goodwill, Mail Online offered to remove the photographs from the article.
IPSO’s Complaints Committee said it was not in a position to make a finding as to where each individual photograph was taken, but said that as the property was undergoing renovation, and was not yet in use as a home, the images could only contain a “limited amount of private information, if any”.
It ruled this did not represent an intrusion into the couple’s private life and so was not a breach of the code.
In regards to revealing details about the location of the property in the report, IPSO said: “In general, people do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy regarding their address. However, there are special circumstances in which the publication of details of an individual’s home may be intrusive.
“In this case, the committee recognised that certain individuals, including those with a high public profile, may be exposed to security problems if their address, or details allowing their address to be identified, are published. As such, this may be information in relation to which they have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
It added: “In the committee’s view, these details were insufficient to identify the precise location of the property, such that the complainants would have a reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to the information contained in the article.
“In coming to this view, the committee noted that the details revealed in the article did not go substantially further, in detailing the property’s location, than information already in the public domain.”
The complaint was not upheld.
Picture: Reuters/Neil Hall