· Decision of the Complaints Committee 02667-15 Heimlich v Mirror.co.uk
Summary of complaint
1. Peter Heimlich complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Mirror.co.uk had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Dog stops pensioner from choking to death on pickled onion with 'Heimlich Manoeuvre', published on 1 April 2015.
2. The article reported that a dog had stopped a man from choking to death by carrying out the “Heimlich manoeuvre”.
3. The complainant said the Heimlich manoeuvre was a first aid procedure for dislodging an obstruction from a person’s windpipe by applying a sudden strong pressure to the abdomen. He said the article had stated that the dog had jumped onto its owner’s back; as such, he had performed back blows, not the Heimlich manoeuvre. The newspaper had amended the article, but it would not append a note stating that a correction had been made, and it would not apologise for the inaccuracy.
4. The newspaper said the story about a dog carrying out a “canine version of the Heimlich manoeuvre” was clearly light-hearted. The article was amended as a gesture of good will, not because the newspaper considered that the reference to the Heimlich manoeuvre was significantly misleading.
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, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and - where appropriate - an apology published. In cases involving the Regulator, prominence should be agreed with the Regulator in advance.
Findings of the Committee
6. The article was a light, heart-warming account of a dog saving the life of its owner. It had clearly described the dog’s actions. The humorous reference to the “canine version” of the Heimlich manoeuvre had not created a significantly misleading impression of how the Heimlich manoeuvre is performed. The complaint under Clause 1 was not upheld.
7. The complaint was not upheld.
Remedial Action Required
Date complaint received: 13/04/2015Date decision issued: 22/05/2015