Resolution Statement 03976-18 Kravcova v Liverpool Echo
Summary of complaint
1. Larissa Kravcova complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Liverpool Echo breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Man died after overdosing on painkiller pills”, published on 1 March 2018, and online on 28 February.
2. The article reported the inquest into the complainant’s son’s death. It said that the complainant had claimed during the inquest that her son’s bank statements gave her reason to believe that he had spent £600 on pills online.
3. The complainant said that the article had inaccurately reported the evidence she gave to the inquest. She did not say that she had any reason to believe her son had used £600 to buy pills online; the money in question was withdrawn in cash, which could not have been used to buy internet goods. Furthermore, the Coroner found that her son had died as a consequence of taking painkillers prescribed by his GP, not as a result of the sleeping pills he had ordered online.
4. The newspaper expressed its condolences for the complainant’s loss. It accepted that the inquest did not hear that the man spent £600 on sleeping pills from China in the days preceding his death. However it did not accept that the original headline gave the impression that sleeping pills caused the man’s death; the opening paragraph made clear that a mixture of prescribed pills which were found to be the cause of the complainant’s son’s death. It said that it was relevant to include the fact that the man had previously ordered pills online to aid his chronic back pain, and this was mentioned at the inquest by the complainant.
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 publication offered to write a private letter of apology to the complainant, as well as publishing the following clarifications as a footnote to the online article and on page 2 of the newspaper respectively:
“An article following the inquest of Igor Rudamenko published on March 1, 2018 under the headline, 'Man died after overdosing on painkiller pills' reported that Mr Rudamenko's mother believed he had spent £600 on sleeping tablets from China. We would like to clarify that Ms Kravcova did not suggest that Mr Rudamenko had spent £600 on the tablets from China at the inquest, and we would apologise for any distress caused.”
8. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to her satisfaction.
9. At 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: 13/06/2018
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 29/08/2018
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