Resolution Statement 03356-18 Temerko v The Sunday Times
Summary of complaint
1. Alexander Temerko complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Sunday Times breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors Code of Practice in an article headlined “Tories break Theresa May’s vow to ban Russian donors”, published on 11 March 2018.
2. The article reported on donations by Russians to the Conservative Party. It named a number of donors, including the complainant, who it described as a “London based businessman born in Ukraine when it was part of the USSR”. It reported having been a “key lieutenant in [a] Russian oil giant”, he had “fled to the UK after being accused of fraud. He had been a vocal critic of Putin”.
3. The complainant
said that to report that he had “fled to the UK after being accused of fraud”
was misleading, as it implied that there was a legitimate and legal basis for
the accusation. He said that this was false, and in support of his position, noted
that in response to an extradition request from the Russian government, a UK
court found that “the prosecution of [the complainant] is politically motivated
and the request for his extradition is made for the purpose of prosecuting or
punishing him on account of his political opinions”. The complainant said that
a second statement about him in the article was inaccurate.
4. The newspaper
said that the article made clear that the complainant had to flee Russia
because of the fraud prosecution, that he is a vocal critic of President Putin
and that the fraud prosecution related to his running of an energy
company. It said that in these
circumstances, the article did not imply there were grounds to suspect the
complainant of criminal wrongdoing. The newspaper said it had taken care over
the second statement about the complainant, and denied that this was
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.
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.
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 of the complaint, the newspaper said that it would be willing to
remove the second statement about the complainant from the article. It also
said it would be willing to publish the following footnote on the online
article, which it had first offered to publish prior to the IPSO complaint:
Since publication of this article The Sunday Times has been asked to make clear that a UK court refused to extradite Mr Temerko to Russia on the basis that the fraud prosecution against him there was politically motivated.
8. The complainant accepted the newspaper’s offer of resolution, and the Complaints Committee did not make a determination as to whether there had been any breach of the Code.
Date complaint received: 03/05/2018
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 29/06/2018
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