Resolution Statement – 06622-20 Moult v Sunday Mail

Decision: Resolved - IPSO mediation

Resolution Statement – 06622-20 Moult v Sunday Mail

Summary of Complaint

1. Richard Moult complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Sunday Mail breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy), Clause 3 (Harassment), Clause 9 (Reporting of crime) and Clause 12 (Discrimination) of the Editors' Code of Practice in an article headlined “Nazi murder cult's Scottish training camp of satanism” published on 17 May 2020.

2. The article also appeared online in a substantially similar format.

3. The article reported that “A satanic neo-Nazi …has been operating in Scotland”. The article went on to discuss the activities of the named group and quoted two far-right experts. The article claimed that “An English artist has been identified as being one of the shadowy network’s leaders” and that “Richard Moult [the complainant] is believed to live in the Outer Hebrides”. It also stated that his artwork was used on the group’s propaganda and that, according to a named anti-racist group, the complainant “took over the group’s leadership in the 90s” and returned in 2008.

4. The complainant said that the article implied he was currently involved in the group which was untrue. He had left in 2001 and now regretted involvement. He also said that other claims in the article were inaccurate; he had never been a leader of the group and anyone was free to use his artwork. He also said that the article breached Clauses 2, 3, 9 and 12 as it accused him of wrongdoing without evidence and, caused distress to him and his family. Finally, he expressed a concern that he was not given a fair opportunity to reply. Whilst a journalist had contacted him by email, the specific allegations were not contained within it.

5. The publication did not accept it had breached the Code. It stated that it was simply reporting the views of two far-right experts quoted in the article and a named anti-racist group. It also said that the article made clear the complainant’s position that “he now rejected “any form of far-right ideology””.

Relevant Code Provisions

6. 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.

7. Clause 2 (Privacy) *

i) Everyone is entitled to respect for his or her private and family life, home, health and correspondence, including digital communications.

ii) Editors will be expected to justify intrusions into any individual's private life without consent. In considering an individual's reasonable expectation of privacy, account will be taken of the complainant's own public disclosures of information and the extent to which the material complained about is already in the public domain or will become so.

iii) It is unacceptable to photograph individuals, without their consent, in public or private places where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.

8. Clause 3 (Harassment) *

i) Journalists must not engage in intimidation, harassment or persistent pursuit.

ii) They must not persist in questioning, telephoning, pursuing or photographing individuals once asked to desist; nor remain on property when asked to leave and must not follow them. If requested, they must identify themselves and whom they represent.

iii)  Editors must ensure these principles are observed by those working for them and take care not to use non-compliant material from other sources.

9. Clause 9 (Reporting of crime)

i) Relatives or friends of persons convicted or accused of crime should not generally be identified without their consent, unless they are genuinely relevant to the story.

10. Clause 12 (Discrimination)

i) The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual's, race, colour, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.

ii) Details of an individual's race, colour, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story.

Mediated Outcome

11. The complaint was not resolved during the referral period. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.

12. During IPSO’s investigation, the publication offered, as a gesture of goodwill, to remove the online article.

13. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to his satisfaction.

14. 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: 20/5/2020

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 3/7/2020 

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