Decision of the Complaints Committee – 28491-20 Simmons v mirror.co.uk
Summary of Complaint
1. Simone Simmons complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that mirror.co.uk breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Princess Diana 'buried precious jewels in Palace gardens to ward off evil sprits'” published on 10 October 2020.
2. The article reported that a psychic had carried out “cleansing rituals” with Princess Diana in the gardens of Kensington Palace to “cleanse” precious stones given as gifts. The psychic was quoted as saying “Diana got into burying items in the ground as part of a cleansing ritual. We would bury items she thought had a bad or evil energy, conduct a ceremony and Diana believed the items emerged cleansed and with a better energy.”
3. The complainant –the psychic named in the article– said that the article was inaccurate to report that she had told the newspaper that she carried out a “cleansing ritual” with Princess Diana. She accepted that they had buried stones together in the garden of Kensington Palace to attempt to “cleanse” them of bad energy, but she said that it was significantly misleading to describe this as a “ritual” as the practice was done in no particular order and she had never used the word “ritual”.
4. The newspaper did not accept that the article was inaccurate. It provided examples of previous articles where the complainant was quoted as saying published with complainant’s involvement where she and Princess Diana had been described as carrying out a “ritual” together by burying the stones as set out in the article. These appeared to have been published without complaint from the complainant. It also provided typed up notes of a phone conversation between the complainant and the reporter in which she made the claims set out in the terms of the article including that she had carried out a “ritual” to cleanse the stones of “evil energy”. It said that whether the process was a “ritual” or not did not give rise to any significant inaccuracy regarding the details of the process as described by the complainant and set out in the article. Nevertheless, it offered to amend “ritual” to “ceremony”.
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.
Findings of the Committee
6. The newspaper provided notes which it said showed that the complainant had described her stone-burying activities with Princess Diana as a “ritual” to cleanse them of “evil energies”. The Committee noted the complainant’s position that these notes were an inaccurate record of her conversation with the reporter. However, the Committee considered that the article made clear the nature of the process as described by the complainant –that stones were buried in the grounds of Kensington Palace in an attempt to cleanse them of unwanted energies. It also noted that “ritual” was a broad term which can be used to describe a wide range of conventions and activities. The word “ritual” was therefore not significantly misleading as to the nature of the complainant’s activities with Princess Diana, nor the complainant’s description of it. There was no breach of Clause 1.
7. The complaint was not upheld.
Remedial Action Required
Date complaint received: 13/10/2020
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 06/05/2021Back to ruling listing