Resolution Statement 05756-18 Signature Litigation LLP and Manx Capital Partners Ltd v The Sunday Times
Summary of complaint
1. Signature Litigation LLP and Manx Capital Partners Ltd complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Sunday Times breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) in an article headlined “Tycoon sues sovereign funds over RBS fees”, published on 19 August 2018.
2. The article reported on litigation launched by Manx Capital Partners against 18 of the institutional claimants in the RBS Rights Issue dispute who Manx allege failed to pay their share of the legal costs after a 2017 settlement. The article later mentioned a second case in which Manx is investigating the amounts being claimed as costs by management and contractors of the RBoS Shareholders Action Group Ltd. The article quoted a source which said that the outcome of the argument in the Action Group Company case would be critical to the outcome of the other. This source also said that it was ‘ridiculous’ that [Manx] was ‘suing everyone for not paying the bills that he himself is disputing”.
3. The article also appeared in substantially the same form online.
4. The complainants said that the comments made by the source were inaccurate: the two pieces of litigation were entirely separate and the outcome of one would not fundamentally affect the outcome of the other. The complainants said that it had not been given the opportunity to comment on the source’s claim.
5. The complainants said that the source’s claim regarding disputed bills was also inaccurate: the sum of the bills – approximately £9 million of costs and expenses - that Manx is suing the institutional claimants for is not disputed anywhere, the issue was only liability for their payment.
6. The newspaper did not accept a breach of the Code: the quote was clearly presented as a personal opinion and was attributed to a source close to one of the defendants. The newspaper said that this opinion may be right if the costs incurred in the second action were reduced as a result of the first action.
7. The newspaper said that the reference to “disputed bills” would be understood in a general sense, and not as a specific reference to the sum of one bill. The newspaper said that the facts of the litigation were set out in the article and readers were therefore able to judge for themselves whether or not they agreed with the source’s opinion.
Relevant Code Provisions
8. 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.
9. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter
10. During IPSO’s investigation, the publication offered to publish the following clarification as a footnote to the online article:
“Following publication of this article, Manx Capital has told The Sunday Times that the source quoted was incorrect in suggesting that Manx was suing the former claimants over the same bills as it is itself disputing. Manx has confirmed that the legal claim by them referred to in the article relates to around £9 million of costs and expenses that are not disputed anywhere.”
11. The complainants said that this would resolve the matter to their satisfaction.
12. 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: 25/08/2018
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 18/12/2018
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