01427-14 Walters v Coventry Telegraph

Decision: Breach - sanction: action as offered by publication

·        Decision of the Complaints Committee 01427-14 Walters v Coventry Telegraph

Summary of complaint

1. Phill Walters complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Coventry Telegraph had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “City’s biggest cannabis farmers jailed”, published on 10 September 2014. 

2, The article reported that two men had been convicted of being concerned in the production of cannabis, following a raid on a cannabis farm in Coventry. 

3. The article had been illustrated by a picture of a row of warehouses, which were near to the ones which had housed the cannabis farm. The complainant said that the warehouse to the forefront of the image was his former office, and that he had had to field enquiries from customers and suppliers, questioning if he or his employees had been growing cannabis. 

4. The newspaper accepted that the photograph had been used in error. However, it said that the article had made clear the names of those who had been convicted, and the photograph under complaint had featured a number of business units. It did not believe that the article had implicated the complainant, and noted that the image had not been used online. 

5. Nonetheless, the newspaper offered to publish the following clarification on page 2 of a future edition: 

“In our article of September 10 2014 ‘City’s Biggest Cannabis Farmers Jailed’ we used a picture of some industrial units in Stoke Row to illustrate where a raid had taken place. In fact, the unit that contained the cannabis factory was situated in a unit at the rear of the buildings pictured, which had nothing whatsoever to do with the offences carried out.” 

6. The complainant did not accept the proposed clarification. He was concerned that its prominence on page 2 was not comparable to the prominence of the original photograph. 

Relevant Code Provisions

7. Clause 1 (Accuracy) 

i) The press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures. 

ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and – where appropriate – an apology published. 

Findings of the Committee

8. The newspaper accepted that it had used a photograph of a building which was not the location of the crimes described in the article. The Committee did not accept the newspaper’s defence that it was clear from the text of the article that the complainant and his business had not been involved in the crimes; the article had noted that the two men convicted had likely been instructed by others. The newspaper had failed to take care not to publish an inaccurate picture, in breach of Clause 1 (i) of the Code. 


9. The complaint was upheld. 

Remedial Action Required

10. Having upheld the complaint under Clause 1 (i), the Committee considered what remedial action should be required. The Committee has the power to require the publication of a correction and/or adjudication, the nature, extent and placement of which is to be determined by IPSO. It may also inform the publication that further remedial action is required to ensure that the requirements of the Editors’ Code are met. 

11. The newspaper had offered to publish a correction, making clear that the building in the photograph had not been the location of the cannabis factory. Its proposed prominence on page 2 of a forthcoming edition was satisfactory. In light of the Committee’s decision, the correction should now be published promptly. 

Date complaint received: 22/10/2014 

Date decision issued: 13/03/2014 Back to ruling listing