Decision of the Complaints Committee 08998-19 Kafetzis v birminghammail.co.uk
Summary of Complaint
1. George Kafetzis complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that birminghammail.co.uk breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Funky Bear restaurant in Tamworth closes down just days after owner called diner 'a d***head'”, published on 5 November 2019.
2. The article reported on an online exchange between a member of staff at a restaurant and a customer following a poor review left by the customer on a reviewing website. The article reported that the owner of the restaurant, named as George Kafetzis, had responded to this review by calling the customer a “dickhead”. The article included a screenshot of the review and response, and a picture of Mr Kafetzis. The screenshot of the response stated it had been posted by the general manager of the restaurant.
3. The complainant, the person named in the article as having insulted the customer, said that the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 because the response had been written by another staff member. He noted that the screenshots made this clear.
4. The publication accepted that it was inaccurate to report that the complainant had insulted the customer on the review website. However, it noted that there had been confusion as the complainant had been involved in two similar incidents previously. The publication said it had attempted to contact the complainant prior to publication and once the complainant had contacted them directly about the error it had deleted the article. Following receipt of the IPSO complaint it offered to publish the following correction to be featured on its homepage for 24 hours and then archived:
Our article of 5 November 'Funky Bear restaurant in Tamworth closes down just days after owner called diner 'a d***head'' reported and pictured that the owner of the restaurant, George Kafetzis, insulted a diner who had complained about a steak served up for him on a review website. We have since been advised that the insulting response was left by the General Manager of the restaurant, who has allegedly since been dismissed. We would like to confirm that it was not George Kafetzis who responded to the customer. We are happy to clarify this, and would like to apologise for this error and for any confusion caused.
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.
Findings of the Committee
6. The publication accepted that the complainant had not responded to the online review as the article had reported, but that this response, including the expletive, had been posted by another member of staff. The Committee considered that this was apparent from the screenshot of the comment. Reporting this represented a failure to take care not to publish inaccurate information in breach of Clause 1(i).
7. Inaccurately reporting who had posted these comments was a significant inaccuracy, as it had reported that the complainant was responsible for the insult. Therefore a correction was required under the terms of Clause 1(ii).
8. The correction was offered promptly by the publication, 3 days after the complaint was referred. The publication had deleted the article as soon as it had been made aware of the inaccuracy by the complainant, and offered to publish a correction which would appear on the homepage for 24 hours and then be archived, which represented due prominence. These steps were adequate to satisfy the terms of Clause 1(ii) and the correction should now be published in order to avoid a breach of Clause 1(ii).
9. The complaint was upheld under Clause 1(i).
Remedial Action Required
10. The correction which was offered clearly put the correct position on record, and was offered promptly and with due prominence, and should now be published to avoid a breach of Clause 1(ii).
Date complaint received: 18/11/2019
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 20/02/2019Back to ruling listing