Resolution Statement – 13586-16 Gibbins v Daily Mail
Summary of complaint
1. Angela Gibbins complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Daily Mail breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Vile slurs about Prince George and the sheer nastiness of our new Leftish elite”, published on 27 July 2016. The article was also published online.
2. The article was an opinion column, in which the author stated “Another day another spiteful attack on the internet. This time it is on Facebook and the target is a three-year-old boy described as a ‘f****** d***head’”. The article went on to explain that the “troll” in this case was the complainant. It also referred to the complainant as “foul-mouthed”, and claimed that she had insulted a member of the Royal family “in the language of a drunken ladette after a night out”.
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 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 claimed that she had done so, which was inaccurate.
4. The newspaper accepted that the complainant had not referred to Prince George as a “fucking dickhead”, and that the article was inaccurate on this point. It said that its article had been published following another newspaper’s claims that the complainant had made this comment. It said that the comments the complainant had made about the prince’s life appeared to partly endorse the text accompanying the meme.
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 newspaper offered to publish the following apology in its Corrections and Clarifications panel on page 2 of the newspaper, and as a standalone item on the news homepage of its website for 24 hours:
A comment article on 27 July (‘Vile slurs about Prince George and the sheer nastiness of our new Leftist elite’) incorrectly claimed that British Council manager Angela Gibbins was a foul mouthed Internet troll who had written an abusive Facebook post about 3 year old Prince George, in which she described him as a F****** D***head. In fact Ms Gibbins had only made comments about children and privilege in a sub-thread conversation with friends. We accept that Ms Gibbins did not make the abusive comment, support it or use abusive language of any kind. We apologise for suggesting otherwise.
The newspaper also offered to remove an image it had used of the complainant from its internal database.
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: 14/03/2017Back to ruling listing