Resolution Statement – 13585-16 Gibbins v Mail Online
Summary of complaint
1. Angela Gibbins complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Mail Online breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “British Council launches disciplinary action against manager paid £80k to promote the UK abroad who slated ‘f*****g d******d’ Prince George as an example of ‘white privilege’ on Facebook”, published on 26 July 2016.
2. The article reported that the complainant “faces disciplinary proceedings today after she launched a vile Facebook attack on Prince George under a post calling him a ‘f******* d*****d’”.
3. The complainant said that another Facebook user had posted a meme on Facebook. A meme is an image, often accompanied by a short amount of text, which is easily shared on social media. In this case, the meme consisted of an image of Prince George accompanied by the words “I know he’s only two years old, but Prince George already looks like a fucking dickhead”. The complainant said that she had made comments about children and privilege in a sub-thread conversation with friends. However, she said she had not referred to Prince George as “looking like a fucking dickhead”. She said that the article left readers in no doubt that she had done so, which was inaccurate.
4. The publication said that the article accurately reported that the complainant had commented under the meme, and did not claim that the complainant had said that Prince George “looked like a fucking dickhead”. It offered to amend the article to further clarify the position on this point, and to add a clarification as a footnote.
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.
6. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
7. Following IPSO’s intervention, the publication offered to remove the article, delete internally held copies of a photograph accompanying the articles, and to publish the following clarification, linked to the news homepage for 24 hours:
Following the publication of an article on 26 July 2016 headlined ‘British Council launches disciplinary action against manager paid £80k to promote the UK abroad who slated ‘f*****g d******d Prince George as an example of ‘white privilege’ on Facebook’, we have been asked to clarify that Angela Gibbins did not post any comments relating to the photograph of Prince George. Ms Gibbins commented underneath the photograph, which was posted on the Facebook page of the band Dub Pistols, and her comments were made as part of a sub-thread discussion about children and privilege. Ms Gibbins did not make the f*****g d******d comment in relation to Prince George. We are happy to clarify and apologise for any confusion caused.
8. The complainant said that this resolved her complaint to IPSO under Clause 1.
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: 24/11/2016
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 06/03/2017Back to ruling listing