Resolution Statement – 28398-20 Katarova v thesun.co.uk
Summary of Complaint
1. Elena Katarova complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that thesun.co.uk breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “DOGGY DEALINGS Woman who sold [named couple] puppy once in court for flogging dog with broken leg”, published on 3 June 2020 and an article headlined “[named third party]'S STRUGGLE Devastated [named third party] quits social media after Love Island star suffers abuse over the death of dog Mr Chai”, published on 5 June 2020.
2. The first article reported on the death of a celebrity’s new puppy who had been bought from a dog breeding and importing company. It focussed on the breeder, and described how she had previously taken another customer to court. The court case was reported to have centred over the customer refusing to return her puppy to the breeder after she had been given a full refund due to the breeder failing to disclose that the puppy had a metal splint in its leg. The article stated that the court “ruled against” the customer.
3. The second article also reported on the death of a celebrity’s new puppy. This article included a quote from the celebrity which stated that the puppy’s "skull wasn't fully developed. Part of his brain was exposed. In a tiny dog, any knock probably wasn't very helpful."
4. The complainant, the owner of the breeding and importing company the puppy was bought from, said that both articles were inaccurate in breach of Clause 1. She said that it was misleading for the first article to have the headline “doggy dealings”, where this was clearly a play on the phrase “dodgy dealings” when in fact the court had found in her favour. With regards to the second article the complainant said that the quote did not reflect the veterinary report, which, whilst it reported that the skull was not fully ossified, did not state the brain was exposed. She said that it was normal for a puppy’s skull to not be fully ossified at that age and the quote gave the misleading impression that this was part of the cause of death.
5. The publication did not accept a breach of the Code. It noted that the first article reported that the complainant was successful in her court case and was offered a financial reward, albeit lowered on appeal. In the second article, the publication said that a veterinary report had stated the puppy’s skull was not fully ossified. It said that it if the skull was not fully developed, whether this was a normal part of development or not, it was not inaccurate to report that the brain was exposed. It noted an image of the puppy was included in the article and therefore readers would understand that the brain was not externally exposed.
Relevant Code 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.
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 print the following wording to both articles:
"With respect to Molly-Mae's statements about Mr Chai's cause of death, a pathology report undertaken in June was inconclusive as to the cause of death."
And offered to amend the headline of the first article to read: “Woman who sold [named couple] puppy once in court for supplying dog with broken leg”
8. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to her satisfaction.
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: 05/10/2020
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 28/04/2021Back to ruling listing