Resolution statement 00211-17 Zalcman v Mail Online
Summary of complaint
1. Larry Zalcman complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Mail Online breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Retired company director, 64, smashed his mother’s grave with a hammer after years of family feuding over control of her will”, published on 26 June 2016.
2. The complainant said that the article had inaccurately reported that he had vandalised his mother’s gravestone because she had left him nothing in her will. In fact, he had damaged the gravestone because he and his sister had not been mentioned in the inscription; it was not due to any dispute he had had with this mother. He also said that he not been approached for comment, as reported, and neither had his neighbours.
3. During direct correspondence with the complainant, the publication offered to make various amendments to the article. It also offered to remove it and to publish a correction with an apology.
Relevant Code provisions
4. 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.
5. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
6. The publication removed the article from its website, and it offered to write a private letter of apology to the complainant and to make a donation to a charity of his choice. It also offered to publish the following correction on its website:
An article published on 26 June 2016 said that Larry Zalcman attacked his mother's grave in a 'furious sacrilegious spree of destruction' because she had left him with nothing in her will. We now understand that Mr Zalcman caused the damage to his mother's grave due to his emotional upset at having been left off the gravestone, not due to any animus towards his mother. The article also made reference to Mr Zalcman’s family members and neighbours. We now understand that the claimant was the only other family member involved in the case and that we have been told that neighbours were neither asked nor made comments on these private matters to which they are not, nor have ever been, party. We apologise for any distress caused and have made a donation to the Alzheimer’s Society on Mr Zalcman’s behalf.
7. As the complaint was successfully mediated, the Complaints Committee did not make a determination as to whether there had been any breach of the Code.
Date complaint received: 11/01/2017
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 24/04/2017Back to ruling listing