Resolution Statement 02138-14 Williams v South Wales Evening Post
1. Chris Williams
complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the South Wales
Evening Post breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in
articles headlined “Family of ‘cannibal killer’ ‘devastated’ by death of victim”,
“’Cannibal’ ‘eats woman’s face’ in village hotel and dies after police taser
him”, and “’Cannibal’ killing victim Cerys Yemm was chatted up by suspected
murderer in a bar”, published online on 7 November 2014.
2. The articles
reported that Cerys Yemm had met Matthew Williams on a night out and
accompanied him back to his hostel. They reported that the victim had died
after an attack by Mr Williams, which the articles alleged involved acts of
cannibalism. The articles also included comments from friends and family of the
victim, and individuals from the local community.
3. The complainant
was the father of Matthew Williams. He said that it was inaccurate to refer to
his son as a “cannibal”, as at the time of publication no cause of death had
been established. The complainant said that reports of a cannibalistic element
to the attack were based on statements by witnesses and locals, which he
believed were inaccurate.
4. The complainant
and publication agreed to put the complaint on hold until after the inquests
were complete and the full details of the event were known.
5. The complainant
said that the inquest had found that cannibalism had not taken place, and
therefore it had been inaccurate for the publication to report this when it had
not been confirmed as fact.
6. The newspaper
did not accept that it had breached the Code. It said that the article was
based on eye witness accounts, including a 999 call heard at the inquest. The
publication said that the findings of the inquest did not make the article
inaccurate, as it was published before the findings of the inquest were known;
however they had published subsequent articles reporting the findings of the
inquests, which made clear that no acts of cannibalism had taken place.
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.
8. The complaint
was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO
therefore began an investigation into the matter.
IPSO’s intervention, the publication added links to the follow-up articles to
the original article so that readers were aware of the outcome of the inquest.
10. The complainant said that this resolved the matter to
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: 13/11/2014
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 16/06/2017
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