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Ipso failed on coverage of my Anisha’s death


Accident video use was a gross intrusion, says Mandy Garner. A


t 2am on February 20 last year, two police officers knocked on our door. They had come to inform us that


our 20-year-old daughter Anisha had been killed in a hit-and-run incident. By midday the next day, the Mailonline had published CCTV footage of the incident purchased from a local store under the headline ‘EXCLUSIVE: Shocking moment young woman is killed by speeding hit-and-run driver escaping police – as she is flung 20 feet into the air and lands in front of horrified onlookers at London bus stop’. The video played automatically if


you clicked on the story. Two of my brothers saw that story. One of them rang the Mail to complain. The video was removed two days after it was posted, presumably after it had received all the clicks required. Although my brother had not given his full name when he called, the Mail managed to trace him because he had put a note on some flowers next to where Anisha died. They rang him back and asked if he wanted to say something about Anisha. The video footage was clearly not enough. They wanted an interview too. Despite our overwhelming shock and


grief, I decided to file a complaint to Ipso because I felt this was clearly a breach of any kind of press standards. To me, it was fairly evident that the Mail was exploiting my daughter’s death for clickbait and that this was a clear case of intrusion into private grief. My children could have seen that


video. Images stick in the mind much more than words. It was wrong and I didn’t want it to happen to anyone else.


I thought the process would be fairly


straightforward. Instead, I was subjected to months of exchanges with the Mail, who tried to justify their actions. Every exchange reduced me to tears. Apparently, the Mail’s motive was to


bring forward witnesses. This was despite the fact that there were many witnesses and, of course, CCTV footage. The police were involved and an independent police investigation is going on – but that headline is clearly not about bringing witnesses forward. Why publish so quickly? If witnesses were required, surely that is something we, Anisha’s family, would have supported. Why not ask us? The main thrust of the Mail’s defence, however, was to throw the blame onto someone else. They said they had given the police time to warn us the video was going up. In fact, the police had told them not to put it up and, when the Mail said they were going to anyway, the police had asked at least to be given time to let us know. The Mail gave the police one hour. I maintain that we were not warned. I


would have remembered. The Mail says we were. This is despite the fact that, warning or no warning, they would have posted it anyway. They also claimed to have edited the video ‘sensitively’ so it stopped just before the actual impact. Although none of this had anything to do with my complaint about clickbait, it was enough for Ipso to dismiss the claim. Ipso added that the video was ‘grainy’ so you would not know who it was. My brothers all knew who it was. My children would know who it was. I checked how many cases had been successful in the last five years under ‘clause 4 – intrusion into


grief’ of the Ipso editors’ code. I found one, again involving the Mail and again involving video. This time, however, the Mail did not attempt to justify it. I told Ipso several times that the


whole process had been very distressing. When I first mentioned this, they asked if I wanted to drop the case. At the end, they asked if I might like to train them on how to improve the process. The only thing that would improve it is if they actually stood up for press standards. Instead, their ruling means the Mail – and perhaps others – will do the same thing again. Indeed, the Mail cited a previous ruling to back up their case. I doubt many other people would


put in a complaint to Ipso under clause 4. It’s not what you want to do when you are grieving and Ipso told me few people had done this. But it’s because I am a journalist that I think it matters. We can and must do better. I have asked the Mail Online how


“ ”


Ipso added that the video was ‘grainy’ so you would not know who it was. My brothers all knew who it was, as would my children


many clicks they got on the story with the video compared to how many they got without it in there. They won’t say, but it must make some form of commercial sense because it doesn’t make any other kind of sense. The police told me they had been on the scene of accidents where people who were filming the last moments of a victim on their phones complained when told to show a bit of respect. Surely, clickbait press reports only encourage this?


Mandy Garner is managing editor of workingmums.co.uk and was previously features editor at the Times Higher Education and a senior broadcast journalist at the BBC


theJournalist | 09


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