13786-16 Middleton v Mail on Sunday
Summary of complaint
1. Anthony Middleton complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Mail on Sunday breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Who dares interview an enraged SBS hero?”, published on 4 December 2016.
2. The complainant expressed concern that the newspaper had given the significantly misleading impression that before being interviewed on the radio, he had taken offence at a comment made by the radio host, and had grabbed him by the neck and had thrown him against the wall. While he accepted that he had been questioned by police following an incident at the station, the incident had been set up for a prank video for publication on the radio station’s website. He said the reporter had contacted him for comment before publication, but she had not given him the opportunity to respond to the actual claims which were then published.
3. The newspaper said that the radio host had considered that the incident had been serious enough to report to the police, although no action was taken. It said that it was regrettable the complainant had not made clear to the reporter before publication that he had been asked to put the radio host in a headlock for a prank video; instead, he had said that “nothing of note took place”, which was reported. While the newspaper did not consider that the article had been significantly misleading, it offered to append the following note to the online version:
Since publication of this article, a spokesman for Mr Middleton has asked to point out that the incident took place during filming of a “prank” video. The spokesman said the show’s producers had asked Mr Middleton to put Mr Cundy in a headlock but Mr Cundy fell over and broke his glasses. It was not Mr Middleton’s fault, said the spokesman.
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.
5. Following the start of IPSO’s investigation into the matter, the newspaper contacted the complainant directly and offered to remove the article from its website.
6. The complainant said that the removal of the article would resolve the matter to his satisfaction.
7. As the complaint was resolved, the Complaints Committee did not make a determination as to whether there had been any breach of the Code.
Date complaint received: 04/12/2016
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 31/01/2017
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