Resolution Statement – 00607-20 Dorante-Day v thesun.co.uk

Decision: Resolved - IPSO mediation

Resolution Statement – 00607-20 Dorante-Day v thesun.co.uk

Summary of Complaint

1. Simon Charles Dorante-Day complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that thesun.co.uk breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 3 (Harassment) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “CAM OFF IT! Builder, 53, claims Megxit was cover-up to hide truth that he’s Charles & Camilla’s secret son as he launches legal bid”, published on 28 January 2020 and an article headlined “FULL OF HOT HEIR The most bonkers royal love child claims from Diana’s ‘lookalike daughter’ to Harry’s ‘secret son’”, published on 31 January 2020.

2. The articles reported on a “builder” who alleged to be the biological child of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. The article reported that the man was going to court “in a bid to force Charles and Camilla to take a DNA test”, that the man’s case had been thrown out of court three times, and that “Megxit” was a “cover up” in order to draw media attention away from his “bonkers claim”. The articles were illustrated of photos from the complainant’s social media, and the first article referred to the man’s wife by her first name only.

3. The complainant, the man featured in the two articles, said that the articles were inaccurate in breach of Clause 1. He said that he was not a builder but an engineer. He said that it was misleading to characterise his court case as simply trying to “force Charles and Camilla to take a DNA test” as there was more to it than this, and he stated it had never been thrown out of court. He also said he had never stated that “Megxit” was a “cover-up” for his claims. He also said the articles were inaccurate and insulting to state that his claim was “bonkers”, to call his wife by her first name and omit her title and family name and that he had not consented to the use of images from his social media.

4. The complainant also said that the articles breached Clause 3 (Harassment) for the same reasons.

5. The publication did not accept a breach of Clause 1. It said that references to him being a builder were made in human error, but were not significant in the context of the story. However, it deleted these references from the articles. It said that where the court case was to establish whether the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cambridge were his parents, it was not misleading to characterise this as an attempt to “force” them to take a DNA test, as this would be central to his case. The publication also said that it had relied on an article by another publication, which had stated that his case had been thrown out of court three times. The publication pointed to another article, which the complainant had provided, in where he described the timing of “Megxit” and his court case as “a very big coincidence!”. The publication said that, on this basis, it was not misleading to state that the complainant had described Megxit as a “cover-up”.

6. The publication noted that Clause 3 (Harassment) cannot be breached by th publication of articles alone.

Relevant Code Provisions

7. 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.

Mediated Outcome

8. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.

9. The publication offered to print the following correction:

A previous version of this article stated that Simon Dorante-Day was a builder. He is in fact an engineer. Furthermore, Mr Dorante-Day has told The Sun that his case has never been thrown out of court. We are happy to clarify. 

10. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to his satisfaction.

11. 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: 06/08/2020

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 02/02/2020

 

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