Resolution statement 06538-17 Hybrid Air Vehicles Limited v Mail Online
Summary of complaint
1. Hybrid Air Vehicles Limited complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Mail Online breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “BREAKING NEWS: World’s biggest airliner ‘nosedives into a field’ after breaking free from its moorings just months after crashing on a test flight”, published on 19 April 2017.
2. The article reported that the Airlander 10, “the world’s longest aircraft had ‘nosedived’” into a field after breaking free from its rear moorings. It claimed that “panicked” engineers rushed to the scene to secure the aircraft. The article also included an eye-witness account and a picture of the Airlander 10, as described in the article.
3. The complainant said that the article was inaccurate because the Airlander 10 did not “nose-dive”. It claimed that it is usual for such an aircraft to pitch and yaw on its mooring mast and that the airship did not have rear moorings, therefore it could not have broken free from these. The complainant also said that its engineers were not “panicked”.
4. The publication said that the article had been published in good faith, having been supplied to it by a reputable news agency. It said that having received the complaint, it took steps to amend the article to address the complainant’s concerns.
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.
(v) A publication must report fairly and accurately the outcome of an action for defamation to which it has been a party, unless an agreed settlement states otherwise, or an agreed statement is published.
6. The complaint was not resolved through correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
7. Following IPSO’s intervention, the publication offered to publish the following clarification on its News homepage:
An article on 19 April incorrectly stated that the world’s longest aircraft, the Airlander 10, had nosedived into a field in Bedfordshire after it had broken free of its mooring lines. This was based on the accounts of eye witnesses who claim they had seen the aircraft pitching up at the rear. The aircraft’s manufacturer, Hybrid Air Vehicles, has asked us to clarify that the Airlander had not moved unusually and never came loose from its mooring; the aircraft was secured at its nose and some pitching up and down at the tail of aircraft in the wind is not uncommon. We are happy to set the record straight and apologise for the error.
8. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to its 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: 19/04/2017
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 19/06/2017Back to ruling listing