Decision of the Complaints Committee 06649-17 Newman v Daily Record
Summary of Complaint
1. Andrew Newman complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Daily Record breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 3 (Harassment) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in relation to its journalists’ conduct, and articles headlined:
1) “Scotland's biggest ticket tout: Millionaire's jetset lifestyle is funded by milking fans for the hottest gigs”, published on 27 May 2016.
2) “Scotland can lead the way in kicking out ticket touts: MP wants new laws to stop real fans being ripped off”, published on 29 May 2016.
3) “Exposed: Ticket tout Andrew Newman rakes in huge profits from Deacon Blue anniversary gig”, published on 8 November 2016.
4) “Bay City Rollers member confronts 'parasite' ticket tout whose greed is wrecking the music industry”, published on 11 November 2016.
5) “Family Fortunes”, published on 3 April 2017. The article was also published online with the headline “Supertout Andrew Newman using family and friends to rip off music fans”.
6) “Why won’t you
blacklist supertouts?”, published on 6 April 2017. The article was also
published online with the headline “Ticketmaster under growing pressure to
blacklist scammer Andrew Newman and other shameless touts after Daily Record
7) “Weed out
touts”, published on 10 April 2017. The article was also published online with
the headline “Top music industry figures demand that worst touts are weeded out
and banned by ticket companies”.
8) “The ticket
sellers could stop the touts whenever they want..my kid could write the code
for them”, published on 21 April 2017. The article was also published online
with the headline “Supertout bot inventor calls for blacklist as he offers to
fix Ticketmaster's system”.
2. The articles
related to the complainant’s business, which purchases concert tickets, and
resells them via secondary market sites. The articles were generally critical
of the complainant’s business activities, repeatedly referring to him as a
“ticket tout”. They reported details of how he allegedly carried out his
business, and reported criticism that had been made by others.
3. The first
article reported that an individual from a consultancy which had worked with
the police and venues to build intelligence on ticket selling, claimed that the
complainant “harvested prime tickets in bulk through very aggressive methods
that have put him at the head of the pack”. The individual was also quoted as
saying that “Software used by touts to harvest tickets aggressively can now
target the very best seats”. The first article described the complainant’s
wealth by reference to the assets of his company.
4. The third
article reported that “[the complainant’s] computers, running in an office in
Linlithgow, managed to harvest hundreds of Deacon Blue tickets”.
5. The fourth
article reported that the Bay City Rollers were “furious to discover that [the
complainant] had hijacked sales for their upcoming tour”. It reported that a
member of the Bay City Rollers had “turned up at [the complainant’s company] to
brand him a ‘parasite’ and hand over a letter that denounces his trade”. It was
accompanied by an image of the musician standing next to the complainant,
captioned “The confrontation”. It was also accompanied by a video of the
newspaper interviewing the musician after he had handed the complainant the
letter, and an image of the letter in question. It reported that the
complainant “uses sophisticated computers to harvest huge numbers of tickets
for gigs”. It also described the
complainant’s wealth by referring simply to a figure, and reported the value
and brand of his car, which was pictured in the article.
6. The fifth
article reported that a source had said that “[the complainant] isn’t alone in
[reselling tickets]. Many of the top touts use the same methods – multiple credit
cards and identities, often combined with botnet computer software”. This
article reported that an employee of the complainant’s business had uploaded a
photograph of himself at work, at a desk with multiple screens. This article
also reported that “the multi-identity multi credit-card method which [the
complainant] uses, which potentially contravenes several laws, is a favourite
tactic of many of the worst touts in the UK”. It also reported that one source
had said that “what we are seeing is either [the complainant] exploiting his
family and friends or they are in on the act”, and that “it’s not clear if he
is giving them a cut of the spoils or he is just exploiting them”. The print
article was accompanied by an additional article headlined “Tougher laws are on
the way”. This article stated that “a legal clampdown is on its way, but [the
complainant]…could potentially already be in breach of the law”. It went on to
explain that “The Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 prevent
anyone from a company buying tickets while passing themselves off as fans”. It
also referred to the Consumer Rights Act 2005, and said that HMRC were
currently investigating whether “touts have failed to pay taxes”.
7. The sixth
article reported that the complainant had “refused to tell us if he uses bots”.
The seventh article reported that figures in the music industry had called for
ticket sites to blacklist touts, and referred to the complainant as an example.
8. The eighth
article reported that the man who had “invented online ‘bots’ used by
supertouts”, had backed the newspaper’s “challenge to ticket agencies to
blacklist the worst offenders”. It reported that this individual was
investigated by the FBI, took a plea deal, and “got off with probation”. The
article claimed that as part of the newspaper’s investigation, it had shown
that “supertouts such as [the complainant]…use multiple cards and the
identities of family and friends to hoover up thousands of tickets”.
9. Each of the
articles contained photographs of the complainant. These included an image of
him in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and image of him in a car, an image
of him at a concert, an image of him at a university graduation ceremony, and
an image of him at a wedding.
10. The complainant said that all eight articles were
misleading, as they referred to him by name, without making clear that his
company, North Financial Group Ltd (formerly named Newman Corporation Ltd), is
a separate legal entity. He said that this was misleading, as it was his
company which was carrying out any actions, rather than himself.
11. The complainant said that the first, third, fourth and
fifth articles clearly and inaccurately stated that he used “sophisticated
computers”, or computer software, to “harvest” large numbers of tickets for
resale. He said that in fact, the tickets purchased by his company are bought
by real people, using standard desktop computers, in exactly the same way any
other customer would. He explained that while the average fan may use a ticket
buying site a few times a year, his employees do this every day and have access
to pre-sales by signing up to newsletters, as any other customer could. He
explained that his employees therefore have the capability and knowledge to
purchase tickets in a timely manner, but that all purchases are made manually.
The complainant said that the sixth article was inaccurate in claiming that he
had “refused to tell us if he uses bots”. He said that while the reporter had
asked him questions in May 2016, he did not recall being asked specifically
whether he used “ticket bots”.
12. The complainant said it was inaccurate and pejorative
for the second article to refer to him as having “fleeced fans”. He said that
his company carries on the legal and legitimate business of buying tickets and
13. The complainant said that it was inaccurate for the
fourth article to claim that he had “hijacked” ticket sales for the Bay City
Rollers’ upcoming tour. He had purchased tickets in a legal and legitimate
14. The complainant said that the fifth article suggested he
had engaged in criminal activity as his company had bought tickets on behalf of
individuals, without clarifying how this was illegal. He said that it was
inaccurate to suggest he had broken any laws. The complainant also said it was
inaccurate to suggest that he was exploiting his family and friends; all card
holders on behalf of whom his company purchases tickets provided their consent.
15. The complainant said that the individual who was the
subject of the eighth article had acted illegally in the USA. He said that by
referring to both him and this individual as “super touts”, the eighth article
suggested that he also engaged in illegal practices. He said that his business
practices are in fact entirely different, and that he does not use “bots”
(software which automatically performs tasks).
16. The complainant said that the photographs accompanying
the articles had been taken from his private Facebook page, which had been set
to private in February 2016, long before his name was in the public domain, or
publication of the first article. He said that he therefore had a reasonable
expectation of privacy in relation to these photographs, and that by publishing
them, the newspaper had breached Clause 2.
17. In relation to the first and fourth articles, the
complainant said he had a reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to his
personal financial circumstances. By describing his wealth, and giving specific
details of his car in the fourth article, the newspaper had breached Clause 2.
18. The complainant said that he has been persistently
harassed by the newspaper’s reporter. He said that in May 2016, the reporter
attended his company’s office. He said that the reporter recorded his
conversation without notifying him, which he knew because he saw the recording
device. The complainant said that he told the reporter he would not speak to
him, and that he would not be making any comment on any stories later.
19. The complainant said that in late October 2016, after
being told by the office building’s manager that he was not available and told
to leave, the reporter approached the window of the office from the outside of
the building, and shouted at him, trying to ask him for comment on another
story. The reporter then re-entered the building to deliver a note for
him. The complainant said that he had
previously made it clear that he did not wish to be approached by the reporter,
and that by ignoring that request, the reporter had harassed him, in breach of
20. The complainant said that on 25 October 2016, following
this incident, he contacted the reporter by email requesting that he cease
harassing him. He said that this email was acknowledged by the reporter. He
said that despite this, in November 2016, the reporter and a photographer from
the newspaper accompanied a member of the Bay City Rollers to confront him. He
said that photographs were taken, which was plainly harassment in light of his
request that such approaches cease only weeks earlier.
21. The complainant said that on 29 March 2017, the reporter
was outside his office building in his car for over an hour, and watched all of
his staff leave. The complainant said that he did not leave the building until
the reporter had left, as he believed he would be harassed again. The
complainant said that the reporter waited while his staff left, and did not
approach employees when they left the office. He therefore believed that the
reporter had been attempting to speak with him. The complainant said that the
following day, he had to make a further request that the reporter cease
approaching his place of work, and that he should not have had to do so for a
22. The newspaper said that its coverage of the
complainant’s business practices was part of its campaign to highlight
controversy surrounding such activity. It noted that the online secondary
tickets market has been the subject of an investigation by the Competition and
Markets Authority. It said that the reporter leading the coverage had been
called upon to give evidence at the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee’s
investigation into ticket abuse, during which the complainant was referred to
several times. It said that during its sitting, a member of the Committee had
praised the coverage as “extraordinarily detailed and well researched” and
“journalism at its very best”.
23. The newspaper said that the claim that the complainant
used sophisticated software to harvest tickets was based on the statement from
the consultant reported in the first article. It noted that this consultant had
made a similar statement to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee. It
also provided a further statement from this consultant in response to the IPSO
complaint, in which he commented on the methods used to acquire tickets in
large numbers. These included using multiple employees using multiple computers
to purchase from primary ticket companies, and using “high tech, aggressive
software, good computers on fast internet connections”.
24. The newspaper said that the claim the complainant had
used sophisticated software was supported by a sales ledger it had seen from a
show, in which the complainant, in his own name, and in the names of family,
friends and staff, had purchased hundreds of tickets in such a short space of
time, that it would not have been physically possible to do so manually. The
newspaper said that it was not able to provide this material to IPSO in
response to the complaint, as doing so would breach an obligation it had to a
confidential source, in breach of Clause 14. However, it said that the sales
ledger demonstrated that some kind of computer software was likely used. The
newspaper said that it asked a ticket resale website for comment on this, who
did not deny that this activity was taking place. The newspaper said that when
it initially approached the complainant for comment on 18 May 2016, they put
the allegation that he used computer software or “bots” to him, and he refused
25. The newspaper said that the complainant was the director
of his company, which it understood he personally founded and grew. It said
that the articles make several references to the “company” and the
complainant’s “business” and denied that they were inaccurate or misleading in
the manner alleged.
26. The newspaper said that “to fleece” can mean to charge
excessively for goods or services. The
second article’s reference to the complainant having “fleeced” fans was a
matter of editorial discretion, based on his apparent business model of
purchasing tickets, and selling them on at marked-up prices, and was not
inaccurate. It said that the fourth
article’s claim that the complainant “hijacked” sales of the Bay City Roller’s
forthcoming tour was not inaccurate given his business model.
27. The newspaper said that the fifth article did not state
or suggest that the complainant had been involved in criminal activity. It said
that while it was clear from the articles that it disagreed with his working
practices, this did not constitute an inaccuracy. The newspaper said the fifth
article stated the opinion of a source that the complainant was either
“exploiting his family and friends or they are in on the act”. It said that
this was reported in accordance with its obligation to differentiate between
fact, comment and conjecture, and was based, as reported in the article, on the
source’s account of having seen names of the complainant’s family and friends
“again and again” in relation to ticket sales.
28. The newspaper said that the eighth article made clear
that the man who had “invented online ‘bots’ used by supertouts”, had conducted
his business in the USA, and that the FBI had investigated his company under US
legislation. It said that the article made clear that the complainant operated
in Scotland, and there was no suggestion in the article that he had used
29. The newspaper said that when it was initially
researching the complainant’s business practices, his Facebook page was
publicly accessible, which is how it was able to view the photographs subject
to the complaint. It said that the photographs did not reveal any private
information about the complainant, and denied a breach of Clause 2 on this
30. In response to the complaint under Clause 3, the
newspaper said that in May 2016, its reporter approached the complainant for
comment. It said that he was told by the complainant that he did not wish to
comment, and when asked whether he might wish to comment later, said that he
would not. The newspaper said that this was taken to mean in relation to the
story it was preparing at the time.
31. The newspaper said that in October 2016, its reporter
approached the receptionist in the complainant’s office, and asked to speak to
the complainant. It said that the receptionist responded by saying that he was
not in the office that morning, which the reporter knew was untrue as he had
seen the complainant through the window. Following the reporter’s request, the
newspaper said the receptionist made a telephone call, and confirmed that the
complainant was not in. It said that the reporter then wrote a letter to the
complainant explaining that he was seeking his comments, walked to the open
window and asked the complainant if he would speak with him. It said that after
the complainant said “no”, the reporter asked if he could pass a letter through
the window and the complainant refused. The reporter then returned to the
reception, asked the receptionist to hand the letter to the complainant and
left. The newspaper said that at no point was he asked to leave.
32. In relation to events prior to publication of the fourth
article, the newspaper said it had been approached by the band, who had asked
it to publish a story on one of its members confronting the complainant about
his business practices. It said that after seeking advice, a senior editorial
figure decided that for its reporters to accompany the musician would not
constitute harassment. It said that while it had received the complainant’s
written request to desist, the story had moved on, and there was a public
interest in the newspaper covering it. It said that a photographer and a
reporter both remained in separate cars around 30-40 yards and 50 yards from
the complainant’s office. It said that the musician was not paid by the
newspaper, and did not attend the complainant’s premises as an agent of the
33. The newspaper said it approached the complainant’s
office in March 2017 in order to speak with two of the complainant’s employees
in relation to the article subsequently published on 3 April. The reporter did
not approach the complainant, and did not intend to.
34. The newspaper said that while it believed its approaches
to the complainant were made in accordance with the Code, there was a strong
public interest in reporting the stories subject to this complaint, as
reflected by the recent inquiry by the Culture, Media and Sport Select
Committee. By extension, there was a public interest in approaching the
complainant in a professional manner to give him the opportunity to comment on
the criticisms of his business practice, and to help verify the accuracy of
information. It said that in spite of the complainant’s assertions that he did
not wish to comment, the complainant had decided in July 2017 to give an
on-the-record quote to another newspaper in relation to his business.
35. The complainant said that the comments from the
consultant, which the newspaper had provided in response to his complaint, were
not based on any facts pertaining to his business, and were not relevant in the
context of his complaint. He noted that the newspaper would not provide the
sales ledger it had referred to, and said he doubted such a document actually
Relevant Code provisions
36. 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.
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. Account will be taken of the complainant's own public disclosures of information.
iii) It is unacceptable to photograph individuals, without their consent, in public or private places where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.
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.
Findings of the Committee
37. The Committee first considered the alleged breach of Clause 3. The newspaper had made a number of approaches to the complainant’s business over a period of months, as part of an investigation into the secondary ticket market. The secondary ticket market is a matter which has generated public concern, and the newspaper’s investigation of this topic served a clear public interest. The Committee considered the newspaper’s approaches to the complainant and his business in that context.
38. The Committee noted the complainant’s concern that the
reporter had used a recording device when speaking to him in May 2016. This was
denied by the newspaper, but the Committee considered that, in any event, the
use of a recording device in these circumstances would not represent
harassment, and there was no breach of Clause 3 on this point. On the
complainant’s account, in May 2016, he told the reporter that he would not
comment on a story that the newspaper was intending to publish and that he
would not be commenting “on any stories later on either”. However, the Committee considered that it did
not represent harassment of the complainant when the newspaper approached him at his offices in October
2016; the approach was made five months later and the complainant was being
invited to comment on his ongoing business activities for a separate story. The
Committee acknowledged that the complainant and the newspaper had different
recollections of the reporter’s conduct at the time of making this approach.
However, it considered that there were no grounds for finding that the
journalist’s conduct amounted to intimidation, under the terms of Clause
39. Following this approach, the complainant made a written
request to the newspaper asking it to cease contacting him, in which he set out
his position that he did not wish to comment on any story, and did not wish to
be approached at his place of work. Seventeen days after receiving this
request, the newspaper accompanied the band member to report and photograph his
meeting with the complainant. The Committee considered that the band member’s
decision to confront the complainant was a distinct story about the
complainant’s business, which highlighted concerns within the music industry
about secondary ticket sales. On this occasion, the newspaper had simply
photographed the band member’s approach to the complainant; its journalist had
not asked the complainant for a comment. For these reasons, the Committee found
that it was not a breach of Clause 3 for the newspaper to photograph and report
on the band member’s meeting with the complainant; this was a separate news
story which the newspaper was entitled to report.
40. At the end of March 2017, more than four months later,
the newspaper attended the complainant’s offices for a fourth time. There was
no direct interaction between the complainant and the reporter, as the reporter
had remained in his car, and the complainant had remained in his office. On the
newspaper’s account, it had not been seeking to speak with the complainant, but
wished to speak with two of his employees, although the Committee noted the
complainant’s scepticism on this point. In addition, a significant period of
time had passed since the complainant had informed the newspaper that he did
not wish to comment on any stories about his business. Over this period, the
public debate on secondary ticket sales had developed, including investigations
by Government agencies, and an inquiry by a Parliamentary Select Committee, in
which the complainant had been named by witnesses. In these circumstances, the
newspaper’s attendance at the complainant’s office in March 2017 did not
represent harassment of the complainant in breach of Clause 3.
41. The Committee then considered the complaints under
Clause 1. The first article contained comments from an expert on the secondary
ticket resale market, who said that the complainant used “aggressive methods
that have put him at the head of the pack" and the article explained that
the complainant used multiple accounts and multiple computers to beat the
competition, having hired staff "… to spin out his methods on a grand
scale…" The expert quoted in the article commented, more generally, on
practices employed by some touts and that the use of software can form part of
methods used by “touts”. The third and fourth articles claimed that the
complainant used “sophisticated computers” as part of his business model. A
number of the articles referred to the use of 'ticket bots’ by some touts and
both the fifth and sixth articles reported that the complainant had previously
refused to answer, when asked, if he used “bots”, which indicated that the
newspaper had not been in a position to establish whether or not such a method
was used by the complainant. The eighth article focused on an individual who
used “bots” in the USA to harvest tickets, in which the complainant was
described as a "super tout”. The articles did not, therefore allege that
the complainant carried out his business by the use of “ticket bots”, or
sophisticated software; the references in the articles to the use of “ticket
bots” were more general and were made in relation to methods used by some
touts. The articles made clear that the complainant employed multiple accounts
and multiple identities as part of his business practices and the additional
references in the articles to the use of computers were not misleading. There
was no breach of Clause 1.
42. The newspaper said that in May 2016, it had asked the
complainant whether he had used bots, although the complainant said he did not
recall being asked the question. This interaction had taken place over 11
months before this complaint was made, and the Committee was not in the
position to make a finding as to whether the newspaper had asked for his
response on this point. It was not in dispute that bots formed part of the
business practices of some ticket touts” and the Committee did not find that
the newspaper had failed to take care not to publish inaccurate information by
referring to “bots” or sophisticated software forming part of methods used by
some ticket touts, in the context of articles which reported both on the
complainant’s business practices and the secondary ticket industry more
generally. The articles distinguished clearly between conjecture and fact, and
did not require correction under the terms of Clause 1 (ii).
43. The fifth article did not assert as fact that the
complainant had broken the law; it observed that his business method
“potentially contravenes several laws” in the context of a campaign which was
critical of the secondary ticketing industry. The print article went on to
specify which laws were potentially being infringed. In addition, in response
to the complaint, the newspaper referred to an investigation by the Competition
and Markets Authority, which would be considering whether “businesses selling tickets
and the secondary ticketing platforms advertising them are failing to provide
the full range of information in breach of the law”, and specifically, in
breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
In these circumstances, it was not significantly misleading for the
newspaper to speculate whether the complainant’s business model “potentially
contravenes several laws”, and there was no breach of Clause 1 on this point.
44. The eighth article did not imply that the complainant
had acted illegally by referring to him as a “supertout”; the article had
focussed on another individual who had been found guilty of offences in the USA
in relation to secondary ticket sales and the reference to the complainant was
made in passing. There was no breach of Clause 1 on this point. It was not in dispute that the complainant’s
business practice included purchasing tickets for concerts and events when they
are released, and reselling them at a higher price. It was not misleading for
the newspaper to refer to him as “fleecing real fans”, in the second article,
or to refer to him having “hijacked” ticket sales, in the fourth article. There
was no breach of Clause 1 on these points. The articles reported on the
activities of the complainant’s business, which he operated through a company
of which he was a director and shareholder. The complainant’s concern that the
articles did not make clear that the company through which he runs his business
is a distinct legal entity did not represent a breach of Clause 1.
45. In response to the complaint, the complainant confirmed
that his business used the identities of family members to purchase tickets,
but he said that this was not exploitation, as it was with their consent.
However, the fifth article did not allege that the complainant was exploiting
his family. It raised the question as to whether they were either being
“exploited”, or were “in on the act”. The article clearly distinguished between
conjecture and fact, and there was no breach of Clause 1 on this point.
46. The newspaper said that it had obtained the photographs
of the complainant when they had been publicly accessible on the complainant’s
Facebook page. The Committee noted the complainant’s scepticism about this
explanation, given he had made his account private in February 2016. In any
event, it was accepted that they had been publicly accessible until up to three
months prior to publication and the Committee noted that the complainant had
posed in each of the photographs in circumstances where the information about
the complainant contained in the photographs was limited. For these reasons,
the publication of these images did not intrude on the complainant’s private
life, and there was no breach of Clause 2 on this point. The publication of
publicly available information about the value of the complainant’s company,
and by extension, his personal wealth, did not breach Clause 2.
47. The complaint was not upheld.
Remedial Action required
Date complaint received: 02/05/2017
Date decision issued: 21/09/2017
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