Resolution Statement 03044-18 Smith v Brentwood Gazette
Summary of Complaint
1. Beverley Smith complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Brentwood Gazette breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article published on 28 March 2018.
2. The article reported details from the inquest into the complainant’s husband’s death. It reported the sequence of events leading up to his death, and the conclusions of the coroner. The article was also published online.
3. The complainant said that the article, including the headline, had inaccurately reported the series of events that had occurred prior to her husband’s death. She said this did not reflect what had been heard at the inquest, and provided a statement from the coroner who confirmed her findings. She said that inaccurately reporting the circumstances around her husband’s death had intruded into her grief and shock.
4. The newspaper expressed its sympathies for the complainant’s loss and apologised for any distress caused. It said that its reporters always attempt to speak to family members at inquests to make them aware that the newspaper will cover the story and ask if the family wish to pay a personal tribute. It said as the complainant had not attended the inquest, it was unable to do so on this occasion, but offered to publish a tribute piece if the complainant wished. It said that it had revisited the reporter’s shorthand notes and believed that the article accurately reflected what had been heard at the inquest.
Relevant Code Provisions
5. 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.
Clause 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock)
In cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries and approaches must be made with sympathy and discretion and publication handled sensitively. These provisions should not restrict the right to report legal proceedings.
6. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
7. During IPSO’s investigation, the newspaper apologised for the distress and upset caused by the article. It offered to remove the online article and to write a private letter of apology to the complainant.
8. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to her satisfaction.
9. 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: 11/04/2018
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 05/06/2018Back to ruling listing