Resolution Statement – 13593-16 Gibbins v Express.co.uk
Summary of Complaint
1. Angela Gibbins complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Express.co.uk breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in articles headlined “Calls for British Council boss who blasted Prince George on ‘d*******’ post to be sacked”, published on 26 July, and “Outrage as British Council boss blasts Prince George on a post branding him a ‘d*******’”, published on 27 July 2016.
2. Both articles reported that the complainant had commented under a photograph of Prince George that “had a caption branding the heir to the throne a ‘f******* d*******’”.
3. The complainant said that another Facebook user had shared a meme on Facebook which attracted hundreds of comments. 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 had made comments about children and privilege in a sub-thread conversation with friends. However, she had not made the “fucking dickhead” comment or endorsed it. She said that the articles claimed that she had done so, which was inaccurate.
4. The publication denied that the articles alleged that the complainant had referred to Prince George using the words in the meme. They said that they had reported that she had commented on the meme, which was correct.
Relevant Code Provisions
4. 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.
5. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
6. Following IPSO’s intervention, the newspaper offered to amend the headline of both articles to refer to a “Facebook post”, rather than “d******** post”. It offered to add the following additional sentence to the introduction of both articles: “Both the photograph and the caption had been posted by someone else”.
7. The complainant said that this resolved her complaint to IPSO under Clause 1.
8. 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: 06/04/2017Back to ruling listing