Decision of the Complaints Committee -- 00057-20 Chambers v The Guernsey Press and Star
Summary of Complaint
1. Gian Chambers complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Guernsey Press and Star breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Resumed inquest into death of 21-year-old concludes”, published on 3 January 2020.
2. The article was a report on an inquest into the suicide of a young man. It was a report of the second part of the inquest, as the taxi driver, who was “believed to be the last person to see” the deceased alive, had not been present at the first half of the inquest in order to give a statement. The article reported that the deceased had got into a taxi and then “got out of one briefly to draw money from a cashpoint at Waitrose Admiral Park at about 8.50pm.”
3. The complainant was the person who had driven the taxi mentioned in the article. He said that the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) because it gave the misleading impression that the deceased had got back into the taxi when actually he had walked away. The complainant provided a letter from the Law Officers of the Crown which stated that in CCTV footage “a vehicle can be seen which appears to be a taxi licensed to you and to which [the subject of the inquest] appears to walk after making his cash withdrawal”.
4. The publication did not accept that the article was an inaccurate report of the inquest. It disputed the complainant’s position that the letter he had provided had confirmed that the man had walked away from the taxi. It said that this letter actually suggested that the man appeared to walk towards the taxi. The newspaper also provided a full police report that was included at the first inquest which said that the deceased was “seen on CCTV removing cash from the cashpoint at the [supermarket] before getting back into the taxi.” The publication also provided the notes from the reporter who was present at the inquest, which noted that the inquest had heard that the deceased had got back into the taxi, and an email from the reporter confirming this.
Relevant Code Provisions
5. Clause 1 (Accuracy)
i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text.
ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and — where appropriate — an apology published. In cases involving IPSO, due prominence should be as required by the regulator.
iii) A fair opportunity to reply to significant inaccuracies should be given, when reasonably called for.
iv) The Press, while free to editorialise and campaign, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.
Findings of the Committee
6. The Committee noted the complainant’s position that the subject of the inquest had not got back into the taxi. However, the publication had supplied police evidence which stated that the deceased was “seen on CCTV removing cash from the cashpoint at the [supermarket] before getting back into the taxi.” In addition, the reporter was present at the court and had provided notes which supported what had been reported in the article. Finally, the evidence that had been supplied by the complainant also suggested that the deceased had “appear[ed] to walk” to the taxi. The Committee concluded that the article was not inaccurate to report that the deceased had got out of the taxi “briefly” and there was no failure to take care not to publish inaccurate information and therefore no breach of Clause 1.
7. The complaint was not upheld.
Remedial Action Required
Date complaint received: 03/01/2020
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 16/04/2020Back to ruling listing