Ruling

Resolution Statement – 00019-24 Peach v dorset.live

  • Complaint Summary

    James Peach complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that dorset.live breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy), Clause 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock), Clause 7 (Children in sex cases), Clause 12 (Discrimination) and Clause 14 (Confidential sources) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Dorset court cases: sex offenders who won't reform among those in hot water this week”, published on 4 December 2022.

    • Date complaint received

      28th March 2024

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 12 Discrimination, 14 Confidential sources, 2 Privacy, 4 Intrusion into grief or shock, 7 Children in sex cases

Resolution Statement – 00019-24 Peach v dorset.live


Summary of Complaint

1. James Peach complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that dorset.live breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy), Clause 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock), Clause 7 (Children in sex cases), Clause 12 (Discrimination) and Clause 14 (Confidential sources) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Dorset court cases: sex offenders who won't reform among those in hot water this week”, published on 4 December 2022.

2. The article reported on the week’s court listings in Dorset. The article reported on individuals charged with numerous offences, including racially aggravated harassment, failing to comply with a previous sexual harm prevention order, and assault. Toward the end of the article, under the sub-headline: “Drink drivers from Dorset fined and disqualified in the last week”, the article reported the complainant’s name, his address and age.

3. The complainant said that the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 because – due to the headline – it gave the impression that he had been arrested for sexual offences, instead of a “minor motoring offence”. He also stated that it breached Clause 2, Clause 4, Clause 7, Clause 12, and Clause 14, for the same reason.

4. Further, the complainant also set out that the article was inaccurate because he had not been “fined and disqualified” in December 2022. He stated that, although he had appeared in court on the week being reported on, he had plead not guilty; he had then appeared in court in May 2023, at which point he had plead guilty to a lesser offence, and then had been fined and disqualified. He also added that his address had been misspelt.

5. The publication did not accept a breach of Clause 1. Nevertheless, in light of the complainant’s concerns, it amended the headline to read “Dorset court cases: from sex offenders who won't reform to driving offences - those in hot water this week”. On 11 January, the publication also offered to remove all mention of the complainant from the article.

6. The complainant did not accept this as a resolution to his complaint. He added that the address that the publication had listed was his parents address, who were foster carers. He reiterated that the publication had implied the address was linked to sex offenders, which would have serious implications for both himself and his parents.

7. In response, the publication amended the article again to reflect that the complainant had not been disqualified at the initial hearing; the updated version confirmed his “Sentencing hearing and disqualification commenced 11 May 2023”.

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

9. During IPSO’s investigation, following further investigation, the publication made further amendments. It also added a correction, which read as follows:

We would also like to make clear that [the complainant’s] sentencing hearing and disqualification commenced on 11 May 2023. We are happy to clarify this and the article has been amended accordingly.

10. The complainant maintained that the updated version of the article was inaccurate. He stated that he had not attended a “sentencing hearing”, as on his second court appearance he had plead guilty to a separate, and lesser, charge than his initial hearing.

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 2 (Privacy)*

i) Everyone is entitled to respect for their private and family life, home, physical and mental health, and correspondence, including digital communications.

ii) Editors will be expected to justify intrusions into any individual's private life without consent. In considering an individual's reasonable expectation of privacy, account will be taken of the complainant's own public disclosures of information and the extent to which the material complained about is already in the public domain or will become so.

iii) It is unacceptable to photograph individuals, without their consent, in public or private places where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.

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.

Clause 7 (Children in sex cases)*

The press must not, even if legally free to do so, identify children under 16 who are victims or witnesses in cases involving sex offences.

In any press report of a case involving a sexual offence against a child -

i) The child must not be identified.

ii) The adult may be identified.

iii) The word "incest" must not be used where a child victim might be identified.

iv) Care must be taken that nothing in the report implies the relationship between the accused and the child.

Clause 12 (Discrimination)

i) The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual's, race, colour, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.

ii) Details of an individual's race, colour, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story.

Clause 14 (Confidential sources)

Journalists have a moral obligation to protect confidential sources of information.

Mediated Outcome

11. During IPSO’s investigation, as a gesture of goodwill, the publication again offered, on 19 February, to remove all mention of the complainant from the article.

12. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to his satisfaction.

13. On 27 February, the publication removed all mention of the complainant from the article.

14. 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: 01/01/2024

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 27/02/2024