Resolution Statement 09570-19 Enticknap v thenorthernecho.co.uk
Summary of Complaint
1. Gary Enticknap complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that thenorthernecho.co.uk breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Teesside pimp handed suspended jail term”, published on 11 June 2019.
2. The article reported on the sentencing of the complainant. The article stated that the complainant had “blackmailed a woman who worked for his online escort agency”; detailed his sentencing for controlling prostitution for gain and contained a quote from a spokesperson for North Yorkshire Police which stated that “he used the threat of blackmail to avoid being brought to justice.”
3. The complainant said that the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 because, whilst the claim he had blackmailed one of the escorts had been addressed in court, this had been dropped and he had not been found guilty of it.
4. The publication accepted that it had published inaccurate information. The article had been based on a press release issued by the North Yorkshire Police which had incorrectly stated that the complainant had blackmailed one of the women. The publication was contacted by the complainant directly, and after confirming with the North Yorkshire Police, it amended the article and added the following correction and apology as a footnote:
An earlier version of this article made reference to an allegation of blackmail as per information supplied by North Yorkshire Police, but that charge was dropped by the CPS. The information was used in good faith by The Northern Echo and we would like to apologise for any distress caused.
After the article was amended, the North Yorkshire Police released a second press release which stated that the complainant had not been found guilty of blackmail.
Relevant Clause 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.
6. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
7. The publication offered to write a letter of apology to the complainant.
8. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to his 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: 18 December 2019
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 27 January 2020