Decision of the Complaints Committee 00062-21 Campbell v stokesentinel.co.uk
Summary of Complaint
1. Sharon Campbell complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that stokesentinel.co.uk breached Clause 1 of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Student caught driving while disqualified on M6 (and 11 other cases)”, published on 7 November 2020.
2. The article reported on cases from courts in the region. One of the case reports named a man who had plead guilty to three charges of making indecent photographs of children and possession of an extreme pornographic image. The article listed the road and village in which the named man resided.
3. The complainant was the ex-partner of the man named in the article, who remained living at the address published in the article. She said that the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 as the man no longer lived at the address, and the court had confirmed prior to the case being reported on that the address had been removed from the file. The complainant said she had spoken to the court, who had told her that the newspaper had not been in contact with them to confirm the address.
4. The publication did not accept a breach of the Code, although it accepted that the information was inaccurate. The publication provided IPSO with an email it had sent to the court prior to publication of the article, which contained a list of defendants and the corresponding addresses the publication had for those individuals, for the court to either approve or change. In this case, the publication had supplied the name of the defendant and the complainant’s address, and the court had not changed the address or otherwise indicated it was inaccurate. The publication said that on this basis it had taken care not to publish information that was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1(i).
5. Upon receipt of the complaint the publication contacted the court, who confirmed that the defendant’s address was not that which had been published. The publication immediately amended the article and when the complainant indicated she wanted a correction, it offered to add the following as a footnote to the article:
A previous version of this article listed [the named defendant]'s address as '[the complainant’s address]'. We have since been informed that in fact, [the defendant] is currently residing in Blackpool. We are happy to clarify this.
Relevant Clause Provisions
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 newspaper had contacted the court in order to confirm the address prior to publishing the article. It was entitled to rely on the information confirmed by the court, and had taken steps to ensure it was not publishing inaccurate information. There was no breach of Clause 1(i).
7. The article did, however, contain an inaccuracy with regards to the defendant’s address. As the complainant had demonstrated that the defendant did not reside at her address, this was a significant inaccuracy which required correction under Clause 1(ii). The publication amended the article to remove the address and offered a correction as soon as the complainant requested one to be added to the article, which represented due promptness, and as a footnote to the amended article, which represented due prominence. The correction identified the inaccuracy and put the correct position on record. There was no breach of Clause 1(ii).
8. The complaint was not upheld.
Remedial action required
9. The correction which was offered clearly put the correct position on record, and was offered promptly and with due prominence, and should now be published.
Date complaint received: 04/01/2021
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 01/04/2021
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