Decision of the Complaints Committee 01396-19 Newman v Daily Record
Summary of complaint
1. Andrew Newman complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation on his behalf, and behalf of his partner, that the Daily Record breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 3 (Harassment) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in relation to its journalist’s conduct, and articles headlined “Tout's £1m mansion that YOU paid for” and “Viagogo forced to reveal address” published on 22 January 2019.
2. The first article reported that the complainant, referred to in the article as “Scotland’s King of Touts”, had “splashed out £1 million on a plush new mansion”. The article was critical of the complainant’s business practices, namely the purchasing of concert tickets, and then reselling them via secondary market sites at increased prices.
3. The article said, “if you paid over the top prices for gig tickets, take a look at where your money went…a £1 million home for tout Andrew Newman”. It said that the complainant’s new property was “perfect for hosting the family and friends who help him make millions by agreeing to let him use multiple addresses and credit cards to beat ordinary fans to the punch for prime concert tickets”; it said, “despite strict rules that typically limit customers to a maximum of four or six tickets, Newman manages to get his hands on hundreds at a time”.
4. The first article said that the complainant’s “flashy antics” had “outraged ticket campaigners”. It reported comments from a named woman, who the article explained had received an MBE for her campaigning work against secondary ticket re-sale sites. Referring to the complainant’s new home, the woman said, “to see such vast displays of wealth is galling and stomach-turning to those who have suffered because of it”. The article reported that in response to a court order won by the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA), a named secondary ticket re-sale site had listed the complainant’s business, North Financial Group Ltd, as one of its traders.
5. The first article also identified the complainant’s fiancé by name and by photograph. It reported, “It’s not clear if she was aware of Newman’s ticket tout history when she said ‘yes’ during a glitzy Caribbean cruise last year”. It reported that the complainant’s fiancé had posted photographs “revealing how Newman wooed her by taking her ringside at WWE wrestling events before enjoying exotic holidays in places like Dubai”.
6. The second article also referred to the court order obtained by the CMA. It said, “Andrew Newman’s North Financial Group Ltd was one of the first names to pop up on the rogue site last week after it was forced to start naming its top traders”. The article said that the complainant “has not been charged with any offences, despite using friends and family and multiple credit cards to harvest millions of pounds worth of tickets, ahead of ordinary fans”.
7. The first article was published in substantially the same form online, under the headline, “Scotland’s King of Touts flashes luxury new £1m house that YOU helped pay for”, published on 22 January 2019.
8. The complainant said that the articles contained numerous inaccuracies about his current business practices, in breach of Clause 1. The complainant denied that he used “multiple addresses and credit cards”, including in the name of his family members, to purchase tickets as claimed in both articles. He said that he bought tickets in his name only, on three separate credit cards from three different card providers, which were registered to his business address only. The complainant further denied that he purchased “hundreds” of tickets per event. He said that he did not exceed the ticket limit set by a website.
9. The complainant said that the first article contained further inaccuracies. He said that the headline suggested that his house had been financed by every single Daily Record reader, which was false; he said that he had paid for the house jointly with his fiancé. He denied that he was “geeky”, or a “computer expert”, or that his new home had a “stable block”, as reported. The complainant said that his fiancé had said “I will” in German, when he had proposed to her, not “yes” as claimed in the first article. He also said that the article gave the misleading impression that his fiancée did not contribute financially to their joint trips and events they attend together.
10. The complainant also said that the conduct of a journalist working on behalf of the Daily Record represented a breach of Clause 3. He said that the journalist had repeatedly, and without any justification, featured him in stories relating to the ticketing industry, as well as referred to him in posts on Twitter. He said that when he had complained to the publication directly, the journalist had responded to his concerns, which the complainant considered to be harassment. The complainant provided a copy to IPSO of the response which he had received from the journalist.
11. The newspaper did not accept a breach of the Code, and cast doubt on the complainant’s explanation of his current business practices, in particular, his denial that he used “multiple addresses and credit cards” to purchase tickets, and his denial that his business sold “hundreds” of tickets per event.
12. The newspaper noted that the complainant had raised a previous complaint to IPSO, which had not been upheld by the Complaints Committee. The newspaper noted that in that case, the complainant had confirmed that his business used the identities of family members to purchase tickets.
13. The newspaper said that the CMA’s recent court order required that the ticket re-sale site named in the articles must publish the names and addresses of businesses who sell more than 100 tickets a year from the site. It said that the complainant’s business had been named by the site as one of its biggest sellers. The newspaper further noted that the complainant had declared hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of stock – in the form of tickets – since 2013. It said that the 2017 accounts declared £1.8 million worth of stock. The newspaper said that it did not accept that these values could be achieved by purchasing tickets within the limit prescribed by a website.
14. In further support of this, the newspaper also provided screenshots of tickets being sold by the complainant’s company online. One screenshot showed North Financial Group Ltd selling five tickets on a resale site for the Reading Festival, for a price higher than that which they had been bought. The newspaper said that the ticket limit imposed by the festival was “4 tickets per person, per address and per credit card”. The newspaper provided more screenshots which apparently showed the complainant’s company selling 112 tickets for several dates of one group’s tour.
15. The newspaper did not accept a breach of Clause 1 in respect of the further alleged inaccuracies raised by the complainant. It said that the headline’s claim did not refer exclusively to Daily Record readers; the word “you” clearly referred to the general public, which was accurate given that the complainant’s business consisted of increasing the price of tickets and reselling to the general public. It did not accept that the reference to the complainant as a “geeky computer expert” was inaccurate; it noted the Complaints Committee’s previous ruling on this point, and said that it had been widely reported that the complainant used computer software to get hold of numerous tickets for events to sell on. The newspaper said that at no point did the first article allege that the complainant’s fiancée failed to contribute financially to the events she attended with him.
16. The complainant said that IPSO’s Complaints Committee’s previous decision on his complaint was outdated. He said that he made changes to his business model at the end of 2017 and early 2018. He said that as of February 2019, he employed one person, as opposed to eight in 2017.
17. In response to the screenshots
provided by the newspaper concerning the Reading Festival, the complainant said
that there was no ticket limit on the terms and conditions from the Reading
Festival itself, and there was no ticket limit stated if buying through ticket re-sale
sites. He said that he had purchased four tickets off one re-sale site, and
four off another, in line with their ticket limits. In response to the second
set of screenshots provided by the newspaper, he said that he had complied with
the ticket limits imposed by each venue, for any one show. He said that the
newspaper had failed to demonstrate that he sold “hundreds” of tickets per event.
Relevant Code Provisions
18. 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
Clause 3 (Harassment)*
ii) They must not persist in questioning, telephoning, pursuing or photographing individuals once asked to desist; nor remain on property when asked to leave and must not follow them. If requested, they must identify themselves and whom they represent.
iii) Editors must ensure these principles are
observed by those working for them and take care not to use non-compliant
material from other sources.
Findings of the Committee
19. The newspaper had cast doubt on the complainant’s position that his business practices had changed, following his previous complaint to IPSO, however, it appeared to be accepted that the claims made in the article accurately reflected his business model up until January 2018. Further, following a court order, the complainant’s company had been identified as one of the named ticket re-sale site’s largest “traders”, defined in the order as businesses who sell more than 100 tickets a year from the site. The Committee noted that while the complainant said he did not buy “hundreds” of tickets for any one dated event, the publication had been able to demonstrate that his company was selling more than 100 tickets for the same event over multiple dates. In addition, it was not in dispute that the complainant had been named as one of Scotland’s biggest “touts”, and his company had declared £1.8 million worth of stock in 2017. In the full circumstances, the Committee did not consider that any inaccuracy relating to the precise number of tickets purchased for resale by the complainant’s business, and the number of cards and addresses he used to obtain them, and by whom, was significant, in the context of an article which focussed on the apparent wealth which the complainant was able to display, as a consequence of this particular business practice. These claims did not require correction under the terms of Clause 1 (ii).
20. The Committee turned to the remaining alleged inaccuracies subject to complaint. The reference to “you”, made in the headline to the first article, was clearly a reference to members of the public who had purchased tickets from the complainant’s company, and whose purchases had enabled him to buy a £1million home. The headline did not suggest that only Daily Record readers had financed this property. There was no breach of the Code on this point. The complainant denied that he was “geeky”, or a “computer expert”, or that his new home had a “stable block”; however, these were not significant claims in the context of the article. It was not misleading to report that the complainant’s fiancée had said “yes”, in response to his marriage proposal, when she had accepted it. The first article did not contain any suggestion that the complainant’s fiancé did not contribute financially to the trips and events they attend together. There was no breach of Clause 1 on these points.
21. The Committee then considered the alleged breach of Clause 3. It remained the case that the secondary ticket market is a matter which has generated significant public concern, and the newspaper’s reporting of this topic served a clear public interest. The complainant was concerned that he been featured as the subject of these articles, and explained that he considered this to be harassment. However, the selection of material for publication is considered by IPSO to be a matter for discretion by individual editors, so long as the Editors’ Code of Practice has not otherwise been breached. In this instance, the Committee did not consider that reporting on complainant’s business practices, particularly in circumstances where he had been named as Scotland’s biggest “touts”, engaged the terms of Clause 3. The Committee noted the complainant’s concern that the journalist had responded to his complaint, when he had approached the publication directly. However, having had sight of this correspondence, the Committee were satisfied that the journalist had not engaged in intimidation or harassment under the terms of Clause 3. There was no breach of the Code.
22. The complaint was not upheld.
Remedial Action Required
Date complaint received: 09/02/2019
Date decision issued: 21/06/2019Back to ruling listing