Decision of the Complaints Committee – 28442-20 Glenwright v dailyrecord.co.uk
Summary of Complaint
1. Edward Glenwright complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that dailyrecord.co.uk breached Clause 12 (Discrimination) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Twisted stalker terrorised entire town with barrage of death threats and child sex slurs”, published on 5 December 2019.
2. The headline of the article described a defendant as a “twisted stalker”. The article described the crimes that the defendant had committed, such as sending violent and threatening messages, faking email addresses, and accusing others of being paedophiles. The article also made clear that a psychiatric report was in the process of being requested.
3. The complainant, the defendant, said that the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 12 as calling him a “twisted stalker” was a pejorative reference to his mental health.
4. The publication said that, whilst it was aware of the complainant’s mental health, criticism of the complaint's actions, or describing the complainant as 'twisted' did not amount to a breach of Clause 12. It said that the term was widely used to describe unpleasant offenders, and was not a pejorative reference to the complainant's mental health.
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.
Findings of the Committee
5. The Committee considered that the term "twisted" was employed to describe the complainant in light of the crimes which he was found to have committed as reported in the article, rather than because of the state of his mental health. The article reported that sentencing had been postponed until a psychiatric report had been prepared but did not make any further reference to the complainant’s mental health. In this context, the Committee was satisfied that the reference to “twisted” was not a pejorative reference to the complainant’s mental health”. There was no breach of Clause 12.
6. The complaint was not upheld.
Remedial Action Required
Date complaint received: 09/10/2020
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 15/12/2020
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