The Independent Press Standards Organisation has upheld a complaint against The Times after it pictured a man arrested for murder with a woman who was "plainly not personally relevant to the story".
The woman in the photograph was not mentioned in the article and IPSO ruled that the newspaper had breached clause 9, covering the reporting of crime, of the Editors' Code of Practice.
IPSO said that "no public interest could reasonably be regarded as justifying the intrusion" into her life which was caused "by so prominently and publicly associating her with an alleged criminal".
The Times was told to publish the adjudication in full on page 9 – where the story appeared – or further forward to remedy the breach. It published the 465-word article on page 2 today (pictured above).
The committee said this morning it had partially upheld a complaint by Clementine Bobin that The Times breached Clause 3 of the Code, on privacy, and Clause 9, with an article headlined "Banker left glamour model for new life", published on 5 November last year.
The story, which contrasted the student days in England of Rurik Jutting with the circumstances of his recent arrest for murder in Hong Kong, was accompanied by three photographs, the largest of which depicted Jutting standing next to Bobin with his arm around her, captioned as "Rurik Jutting as a Cambridge student at 21, with a friend". The other photographs showed one of his alleged victims and a former girlfriend.
Bobin said the photograph was taken in 2006, when she was a young co-worker of Jutting, after which period she had had no contact with him.
Although the newspaper had not named her, it clearly identified her to friends, family and colleagues, which was intrusive and upsetting. In addition, she was concerned that its relative prominence and size suggested that she was the glamour model mentioned in the headline.
She also argued that the photograph was taken in circumstances where she had a reasonable expectation of privacy – at a private event in the enclosed grounds of a college.
Bobin said that while the picture appeared to have been taken from a publicly-accessible Facebook page, she had not consented to its circulation. The page belonged to a friend, who was unaware that it was not protected by privacy settings. This did not mean it was in the "public domain".
The newspaper argued that in light of the allegations against Jutting, there was a public interest in examining his life – and the photograph served to illustrate the apparent transformation of his circumstances.
It said the caption referred to Bobin's past connection to Jutting, but as she had not remained his "friend" clause 9 should not apply. In its view, those who would recognise Bobin would be aware that she had had no continued association with Jutting.
It did not dispute Bobin's account of the circumstances in which the photograph was taken, but said the individuals pictured had a limited expectation of privacy, and the content of the photograph was innocuous. Given this, and the fact that the Facebook album from which it was obtained was publicly accessible, it did not accept any breach of clause 3.
But the newspaper removed the photograph from its website as soon as it was aware of Bobin's concerns, and apologised for having distressed her. It later removed the photograph from its editorial systems as well, and confirmed that there were no circumstances in which it imagined re-publishing it.
IPSO's complaints committee upheld the complaint under clause 9, saying: "Regardless of the true nature of their connection, the caption to the large and prominent photograph described the complainant as a 'friend' of Mr Jutting.
"While the article, taken as a whole, made clear that the complainant was not the 'glamour model' cited in the headline, it nevertheless asserted a direct association between the complainant and Mr Jutting, in a manner that squarely engaged the terms of Clause 9."
To avoid a breach of the Code, the newspaper had to show it was justified in identifying Bobin, either because she was genuinely relevant to the story, or because – regardless of her relevance – there was a public interest justifying publication.
It went on: "The article had made no reference to the complainant, and she was plainly not personally relevant to the story. No public interest could reasonably be regarded as justifying the intrusion into the complainant's life caused by so prominently and publicly associating her with an alleged criminal." But it did not separately uphold the complaint under Clause 3.
It noted Bobin's concern that the photograph was taken without consent from a Facebook page, but said the picture conveyed only the fact of her association with Jutting about eight years ago, when they were at university. This was not in itself private, and it raised no additional issues for the committee to consider beyond those which gave rise to the breach of Clause 9.