Resolution Statement 00166-16 MacNaughton v Hawick News

    • Date complaint received

      4th May 2017

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement 00166-16 MacNaughton v Hawick News

Summary of complaint

1. Marion MacNaughton complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Hawick News breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “West end woman’s life of misery” in print and “Hawick resident’s seven years of ‘hell’” online on 16 October 2015.

2. The article reported that the complainant had “abused neighbours for almost ten years”, and that she had “filmed and followed neighbours and children, shouted abuse and threats and has been charged with assault”. It included the comments of a neighbour, who made a number of allegations about the complainant, as well as from a number of other individuals who said they had been affected by the complainant’s alleged behaviour. It also reported that the newspaper had tried to speak to the complainant at her home several times, but had been unable to make contact. An accompanying comment piece included similar allegations about the complainant.

3. The complainant said that the allegations about her conduct towards her neighbours were unsubstantiated verbal complaints, which the newspaper had wrongly presented as fact. She said she was very willing to provide evidence in support of this position.  The complainant also said that she had not been contacted by the newspaper prior to publication, contrary to what the article reported.

4. The newspaper said that it had attempted to contact the complainant on three occasions at her home, but had been unsuccessful. It said that the efforts it had made to contact her had not, however, been sufficient.

Relevant Code provisions

5. Clause 1 (Accuracy)

i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.

ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and - where appropriate – an apology published. In cases involving the Regulator, prominence should be agreed with the Regulator in advance.

iii) The Press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

Mediated outcome

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

7. Following further correspondence, the newspaper offered to publish the following apology on the front page, at the complainant’s request in an edition following the conclusion of her trial:

Mrs Marion McNaughton - an apology

In the edition of the Hawick News dated October 16, 2015, we published a front page article, continued on page two, headed 'West end woman's life of misery' along with a comment piece from the then editor. The article made allegations about the behaviour of Marion McNaughton. We accept that our efforts to elicit a response from Mrs McNaughton fell below what should be expected. We would like to extend our sincere apologies to Mrs McNaughton for this lapse and for any upset or embarrassment the absence of her comment within the articles may have caused. In addition, we would like to put on record that Mrs McNaughton denies all the allegations made by her neighbours.

8. It also offered to publish the complaint’s response to the allegations in a follow-up article, also to be published in an edition following the conclusion of her trial, subject to the usual legal constraints.

9. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to her satisfaction.

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: 27/01/2016
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 08/12/2016