Resolution Statement 00397-20 Dobson v Isle of Man Examiner
Summary of Complaint
1. Nigel Dobson complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Isle of Man Examiner breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Magistrates say no to Dobson's licence request”, published on 14 January 2020 and an article headlined “Driving licence is set to be restored from September” on 21 January 2020.
2. The article reported on the complainant’s application to have his driving licence restored early after a drink driving conviction. It said that he had “failed in a bid to win back his driving licence early”. It also said that after being suspended from driving for five years because of his conviction, the complainant had been told “to reapply after four years of the ban [had] been completed”.
3. The second article was a correction of the previous article. It repeated that the complainant had sought to have his licence restored early after being banned from driving. However, it differed in that it went on to report that “Magistrates actually declined to restore his licence immediately but ruled that it be restored from September 29, 2020”.
4. The complainant said that the articles were both inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy). He said that the first article was inaccurate as it said his driving licence had been declined when in fact it had been restored. He said that the second article was inaccurate because it said that the Magistrates had declined to restore his licence “immediately” as he had not applied for it to be restored immediately; it had simply been granted and the Magistrates set a date for this.
5. The publication said it accepted that the first article was inaccurate. It had said that this was due to the Magistrate delivering the judgment in an ambiguous way. This led to the court’s clerk writing that restoring the licence had been declined, as well as the publication’s reporter, and a radio station who also reported on the case. After the complaint was referred by IPSO the newspaper offered to print the following correction:
In the Isle of Man Examiner of January 21, we reported that Nigel Dobson, of Ballachrink Drive, Onchan, had applied for his driving licence to be restored and that magistrates had declined to restore it immediately.
In fact, Mr Dobson did not ask for his licence to be restored immediately.
It will be restored on September 29.
We apologise for this error.
Relevant Code Provisions
6. 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.
7. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
8. The publication offered to print the following correction:
Nigel Dobson’s licence application granted from September
In the Isle of Man Examiner of January 14, we reported that magistrates had refused to immediately restore the driving licence of Nigel Dobson, of Ballachrink Drive, Onchan.
Dobson did not ask for it to be restored immediately.
Magistrates said it will be restored from September 2020.
We are happy to clarify the situation.
Mr Dobson was banned from driving for five years in September 2016 after he failed a breathalyser test with a reading of 52. The legal limit is 35.
9. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to his satisfaction.
10. 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: 21/01/2020
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 09/03/2020