Decision of the Complaints Committee 02077-14 Harley v Daily Mirror
Summary of complaint
Summary of complaint
1. Lord Harley, also known as Alan Blacker, complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Daily Mirror had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 2 (Opportunity to reply) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “’Harry Potter’ lawyer reported to police over Order of St John medal he wore in court”, published on 30 August 2014.
2. The article reported that the complainant, a solicitor, had been reprimanded by a judge for appearing in court wearing “ribbons and badges” attached to his robes.
3. The complainant said that the article had inappropriately questioned his “bona fides”, including his membership of the Order of St. John. He also said that the use by the newspaper of a photograph of him wearing his wig was a breach of his intellectual property rights, and that he had given a statement to a reporter outside of the court, but his comments were not included in the article.
4. The newspaper provided a press statement from the Order of St John in Wales, which said that “Lord Harley (Alan Blacker) is not a member of the Order of St John and his name does not appear on the rolls of the Priory for Wales or England and he is therefore not a member of our Order.”
5. It said that the photograph of the complainant in his wig had been taken from his LinkedIn profile. It did not believe that its use engaged the terms of the Editors’ Code. Nonetheless, it removed the photograph from the online article.
Relevant Code Provisions
6. 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.
Clause 2 (Opportunity to reply)
A fair opportunity for reply to inaccuracies must be given when reasonably called for.
Findings of the Committee
7. The newspaper was entitled to rely on the press release of the Order of St. John. To do so did not represent a failure to take care over the accuracy of the article. Further, given the contents of that press release, the Committee did not identify any significant inaccuracies, which would require correction under the terms of the Code.
8. An opportunity to reply is required where inaccuracies have been identified. As that was not the case on this occasion, there was no breach of Clause 2. The concern that the newspaper had not included the complainant’s comments did not engage the terms of Clause 2.
9. The complaint that the newspaper had stolen the complainant’s intellectual property was outside the remit of the Editors’ Code.
10. The complaint was not upheld.
Remedial Action Required
Date complaint received: 27/11/2014Date decision issued: 20/02/2015 Back to ruling listing