Decision of the Complaints Committee 01572-14 Hawk v Witney Gazette
Summary of complaint
1. Maddison Hawk complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Witney Gazette had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Witney accountant told to pay £8k for selling fake GHD hairdryers that could have injured users”, published on 15 October 2014.
2. The article reported that the complainant had admitted four trademark offence charges on behalf of her company, as well as one offence of selling a product which breached safety regulations. It said that she had been fined more than £8,000 as a result.
3. The complainant said that it was inaccurate to say that she had pleaded guilty; she had pleaded guilty on behalf of her company.
4. The newspaper provided a copy of the court register, which stated that the complainant had pleaded guilty, as an individual, to failing to comply with the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994. It did not accept that the article was inaccurate.
Relevant Code Provisions
5. Clause 1 (Accuracy)
i) The press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.
ii) A significant inaccuracy or misleading distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and – where appropriate – an apology published.
Findings of the Committee
6. The article had made clear that “Hawk admitted four trademark offence charges on behalf of her company and a single offence of selling a product which breached safety regulations”. The complainant is the sole director of her company. In this context, the references to the complainant and her company were not significantly misleading; a correction was not required under the terms of Clause 1 (ii).
7. The complaint was not upheld.
Remedial Action Required
Date complaint received: 22/10/2014
Date decision issued: 13/03/2015Back to ruling listing