Resolution Statement - 08643-19 Singh v thescottishsun.co.uk

Decision: Resolved - IPSO mediation

Resolution Statement – 08643-19 Singh v thescottishsun.co.uk

Summary of Complaint

1. Sohan Singh complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that thescottishsun.co.uk breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “'DISHONEST CHEAT' Shamed ex-Glasgow councillor suing restaurant boss for £50K over political bribes accusation”, published on 1 September 2019. Another article, published on 3 November 2019, repeated some of the alleged inaccuracies. It appeared under the headline “COURT FIGHT Shamed ex-Glasgow councillor who is suing restaurant boss for £50k hires Scotland’s top advocate”.

2. The article reported that the complainant was pursuing libel action against a named individual. It stated that the complainant, a hotelier and ex-councillor, was previously “carpeted by [the] Labour [Party] for illegally using a disabled parking pass” and “suspended…for three years” for doing so. It stated that the complainant was a “rogue landlord” who had “illegally rented out a series of Glasgow flats without being registered with the council” and that he was “issued with a written warning by his own council…over licensing breaches” at his hotel. The article also stated that that the complainant owned the hotel when it held the wake of a named “slain gangster” and that the hotel “is a well known hang-out of [a named] crime clan”.

3. The complainant said it was inaccurate to state that he “was suspended by Labour for three years after using a relative’s disabled parking” as he was actually suspended for a matter of weeks. He said it was inaccurate to state that he was “issued with a written warning by his own council…over licensing breaches” as he was not censured personally. He also said it was inaccurate to describe him as a “rogue landlord” that had “illegally rented out” a series of flats as this was simply a genuine administrative error. He said he did not own the hotel when the wake referred to in the article was held in 2010 and also said it was misleading to claim that the hotel was a “well known hang-out” of a named crime gang. The complainant also alleged many other inaccurate or misleading statements in the articles.

4. The publication did not accept that the article breached the Code. It said that the alleged inaccuracies identified by the complainant were minor and not significant in context. It stated that it had made clear the basis of its claim that the complainant was a “rogue landlord” and that a report about licensing breaches at the complainant's hotel had remained in the public domain, undisputed, since 2012. It did not consider that the reference to the complainant’s three-year suspension was significantly inaccurate, in circumstances where he had received this length of suspension for something else. Finally, it stated that the hotel had long been associated with criminals and that the complainant did not dispute that he owned the hotel in 2016, when a criminal’s wake was held, even if he did not own it during another criminal’s wake in 2010 as the article had stated.

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.

Mediated Outcome

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 newspaper offered to amend both articles to include the following statement from the complainant:

“Singh said: “I am not a 'rogue landlord.

The Government describes this as someone who lets sub-standard property and takes advantage of vulnerable tenants. My family and I have rented out commercial and private properties for years and never had any complaints.

In this case, there was simply a brief lapse in the registration of rented properties with the council.

I was not personally censured over the licensing issues at the Lorne Hotel.

The Lorne is open to everyone and I have never been made aware of it being frequented by criminals, nor do I personally associate with criminals.””

8. The publication also offered to pass on the complainant’s request to be contacted in future before any story, concerning him personally, is published. Finally, it also offered to add the following footnote correction to both online articles:

A previous version of this article said that Sohan Singh owned the Lorne Hotel when Kevin Carroll's wake was held there in 2010. To clarify, Mr Singh did not buy the hotel until the following year. The article also said that Mr Singh was suspended from the Labour Party for three years for using a relative's disabled parking badge. He was in fact suspended for a matter of weeks. The three-year suspension was for an unrelated matter.

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

10. 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: 8/11/2019

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 24/4/2020

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