Resolution Statement – 00248-20 Greany v Mail Online
Summary of Complaint
1. Chris Greany complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Mail Online breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors' Code of Practice in an article headlined "Ex-Scotland Yard commander slams Surrey force for jokingly suggesting on Twitter that Harry and Meghan should become COPS", published on 13 January 2020.
2. The article reported that a former Scotland Yard commander had "slammed" Surrey Police for suggesting on Twitter that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex should join the force as police officers. The article itself included the tweet from Surrey police and the complainant's tweet in response to the post, which read "im not sure this tweet is very tasteful folks…".
3. The complainant, the ex-Met police commander referenced in the article, said that the headline was misleading and exaggerative. He said that his tweet did not "slam" the force, which would suggest severe or heavy criticism.
4. The publication denied a breach of the Code. It said that the matter came down to interpretation, specifically the strength of his criticism of Surrey Police, and noted that his tweet was not supportive; his tweet which was also published in full in the article, had criticised the tastefulness of the tweet by Surrey Police. It said that the term "slams" is habitually used by newspapers synonymously with "criticises" for reasons of brevity and readers would not have been misled by the extent of the criticism, not least in circumstances where the complainant's full tweet featured in the article.
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.
v) A publication must report fairly and accurately the outcome of an action for defamation to which it has been a party, unless an agreed settlement states otherwise, or an agreed statement is published.
6. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
7. During IPSO's investigation, the publication offered to amend the headline to read:
"Ex-Scotland Yard commander criticises Surrey force for jokingly suggesting on Twitter that Harry and Meghan should become COPS"
8. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to his satisfaction.
9. 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: 14/01/2020
Date complaint concluded: 25/02/2020
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