Resolution Statement 14335-16 Enright v Mail Online
Summary of complaint
1. Michael Enright complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, that Mail Online breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 3 (Harassment) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “’British Pirates of the Caribbean actor returns to Syria to fight ISIS - despite being sent home last time because ‘the other Western fighters wanted to kill him’”, published on 4 August 2016.
2. The article reported that the complainant had returned to Syria to fight against the group known as Islamic State (IS). The article reported that he had fought in Syria the year before, but “was reportedly kicked out of the fighting units” and claimed other soldiers had “wanted to kill him.” The article also included a quotation the complainant had given to another news outlet, denying these allegations.
3. The complainant said that the article was inaccurate as he had not been “kicked out” of Syria, and other soldiers had not “wanted to kill him.” The complainant also said that the article constituted harassment as it affected his ability to get work as an actor.
4. The publication said that the article was based on comments made on social media by an individual who fought alongside the complainant in Syria. The publication said these allegations were clearly presented as claims in the article, and stated that it believed the article was balanced as it also included the complainant’s denial of these allegations.
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.
Clause 3 (Harassment)
i) Journalists must not engage in intimidation, harassment or persistent pursuit.
ii) They must not persist in questioning, telephoning, pursuing or photographing individuals once asked to desist; nor remain on property when asked to leave and must follow them. If requested, they must identify themselves and whom they represent.
iii) Editors must ensure these principles are observed by those working for them and take care not to use non-compliant material from other sources.
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 added the following clarification as a footnote and standalone clarification:
An earlier version of this article stated that Michael Enright had previously been kicked out of the YPG army and Syria. Neither claim is true, and we are happy to set the record straight and apologise for any upset caused.
8. The publication also removed the reader comments from the article.
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: 31/12/2016
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 15/07/2017