Resolution Statement – 22620-23 A woman v

Decision: Resolved - IPSO mediation

Resolution Statement – A woman v

Summary of Complaint

1. A woman complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an online article published on 2 December 2023.

2. The article reported on a historic court case, where a man “was found guilty of killing both his fiancée and her daughter”. The article went onto detail how the women’s bodies were found, and the weapon used for their murder.

3. The complainant – the sister of the woman who was murdered – said the article was inaccurate, in breach of Clause 1: it included a specific detail about how the bodies were found, which had not been heard during court proceedings and that sensationalised their deaths.

4. The complainant said that the article intruded into her grief and shock in breach of Clause 4, and its publication was inappropriate and unnecessary. She was concerned that the article contained graphic and lurid details about the circumstances of the women's deaths; by publishing these details in the article – particularly the specific detail not heard during proceedings at the time – had caused her and her family much distress.

5. The publication did not accept a breach of the Editors' Code. While it said it regretted any distress caused by its coverage, the report was based upon evidence presented in court at the time. It considered that the report was accurate and while the complainant found the details about the deaths overly graphic, this information had heard in court, reported on by other publication at the time and had been in the public domain for many years.

Relevant Clause Provisions

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 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock)

In cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries and approaches must be made with sympathy and discretion and publication handled sensitively. These provisions should not restrict the right to report legal proceedings.

Mediated Outcome

6. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.

7. During IPSO’s investigation the publication offered to remove the disputed reference to how the women’s bodies were found. However, the complainant did not consider this sufficient.

8. The publication subsequently offered to remove the online article in its entirety. It also said that should it publish another article on the subject, it would provide the family with advance notice and be particularly mindful of the manner in which it reported how the women’s bodies were found.

9. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter.

10. 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: 04/12/2023

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 19/01/2024

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