Resolution Statement – 02884-20 Longstaff v Telegraph & Argus
Summary of Complaint
1. Chloe Longstaff complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Telegraph & Argus breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Dying man 'marries' fiancee in hospital”, published on 22 April 2020.
2. The article reported on an unofficial wedding ceremony between a man and his partner. The article described the man as having “a number of medical problems as well as suspected Covid-19”. It described the ceremony, and stated that the man’s fiancée was wearing full personal protective equipment, and contained a quote from the hospital chaplain saying that they were all wearing PPE. Neither the man nor his fiancée were named in the article.
3. The article also appeared online in substantially the same format under the headline “Dying man weds his sweetheart on BRI ward hours before passing away”.
4. The complainant, the daughter of the man, said that the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1. She said that her Father had been tested for COVID-19 and had received negative test results. She also said it was inaccurate to report that they had been wearing full PPE, as she had been on a videocall during the ceremony, and provided a photograph of them in hospital without full PPE on.
5. The publication did not accept a breach of Claus 1. It said it had taken care over the publication of the article, and the source of its information had been an article written by the BBC. This article had also described the man as having “suspected COVID-19” and that the ceremony had taken place in full PPE.
Relevant Code Provisions
6. 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.
7. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
8. The publication offered to print the following correction:
After this story was published the patient’s daughter got in touch to say her father tested negative for Covid-19. She also asked us to point out that her father did not wear full PPE during the ceremony.
9. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to her satisfaction.
10. 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: 24/04/2020
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 07/07/2020Back to ruling listing