Resolution Statement – 00223-22 Moore v

    • Date complaint received

      14th April 2022

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 3 Harassment

Resolution Statement – 00223-22 Moore v

Summary of Complaint

1. Richard Moore complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 3 (Harassment) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Outrage at claim Scots councillor called woman's assault by ex-partner 'just another domestic'”, published on 17 December 2021.

2. The article, which appeared online only, reported on claims that the complainant – a local councillor – had “sparked outrage after allegedly referring to an attack on a woman by her partner as "just another domestic"”. It went on to state that the complainant had “allegedly made the remarks at a behind-closed-doors licensing meeting on Monday, to which the public had no access”, and that another councillor had released a public statement which said that "I am utterly appalled that an elected member in a council meeting today referred to a very serious assault on a female by her male ex-partner as ' just another domestic'”.

3. The article also included a comment from the complainant, in which he said "I did not use the word 'just'. I acknowledged that it was a domestic and that it was no less serious for that. Any sort of violence against any person is unacceptable. Violence against women is more prevalent than violence against men but it counts both ways. Whichever way it goes it should be dealt with robustly."

4. The complainant said that the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1, and that he had not made the comments which the article alleged he had made. He said that this had been confirmed after the matter had been referred to the Monitoring Officer, who found that the complainant had not made this alleged comment. He said that the publication would have been aware of this fact had they contacted the council for comment and properly fact-checked the article prior to publication. To support his position on this point, the complainant provided a statement  from the council which had been given to another media organisation, which stated the council could confirm that he had not made the comment during the meeting.

5. The complainant also said that Clause 3 had been breached, as the journalist who wrote the article under complaint had written numerous articles about him.

6. The publication said that the information included in the article regarding the comment had been provided by an anonymous source, and that this information had been supported and confirmed by several other sources. It also noted that the disputed comment was presented throughout the article as an allegation – and therefore distinguished from established fact – and that the article also included the complainant’s denial.

7. Nevertheless, taking into account the information the complainant had provided to IPSO – namely, the statement from the council – the publication removed the online article in its entirety, to resolve the complaint.

8. The complainant said that the removal of the article was not sufficient to resolve his complaint, and that he wished for the publication to publish some form of clarification or correction on its website.

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.

Clause 3 (Harassment)

i) Journalists must not engage in intimidation, harassment or persistent pursuit.

ii) They must not persist in questioning, telephoning, pursuing or photographing individuals once asked to desist; nor remain on property when asked to leave and must not follow them. If requested, they must identify themselves and whom they represent.

iii)  Editors must ensure these principles are observed by those working for them and take care not to use non-compliant material from other sources.

Mediated Outcome

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

10. During IPSO’s investigation the publication offered to publish the following standalone online correction and apology, which would appear on its homepage for 24 hours and then be archived for the lifetime of the website:

An article published by on 17 December was headlined 'Outrage at claim Scots councillor called woman's assault by ex-partner 'just another domestic'', and originally reported that Councillor Richard Moore referred to the attack as 'just another domestic'. This allegation was provided by a source and published in good faith, however, we have since been advised that this is not true. Angus Council has confirmed that Cllr Moore did not make that comment, nor was domestic abuse trivialised by any councillors at the meeting. We would like to clarify this and apologise for the error.

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

12. 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: 05/01/2022

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 30/03/2022