Resolution Statement – 13751-16 Gibbins v Metro.co.uk
Summary of Complaint
1. Angela Gibbins complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Metro.co.uk breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in relation to an article headlined “British Council worker described Prince George as looking like a f**king d**khead’”, published on 26 July 2016.
2. The article reported that the complainant “was reported to have commented on a picture of [Prince George] which someone had captioned “I know he’s only two years old, but Prince George already looks like a ‘f**king d**khead’ “.
3. The complainant said that another Facebook user had posted 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 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 publication acknowledged that the headline of the article was inaccurate in stating that the complainant had described Prince George ‘as looking like a f**king d**khead’. It said that the body of the article complained of reflected the position regarding the comments the complainant had in fact made in the thread beneath the meme, such that readers would not have been misled as to the correct position. It offered to amend the article, and to publish a correction.
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 publish the following apology on the homepage of its website for 24 hours, and archived thereafter:
An article published on 26 July 2016 headlined ‘British Council worker described Prince George as looking like a f*****g d******d’ incorrectly claimed that British Council manager Angela Gibbins had written an insulting Facebook post relating to the photograph of Prince George. In fact, Ms Gibbins had only commented in a sub-thread conversation between friends about children and privilege, some way underneath the photograph, which was posted on the Facebook page of the band Dub Pistols. We accept that Ms Gibbins did not make the f*****g d******d comment in relation to Prince George, endorse or support the use of the phrase in any way, or use offensive or abusive language of any kind. We apologise for suggesting otherwise.
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: 21/03/2017Back to ruling listing