Ruling

00451-15 Tomlin v Nottingham Post

    • Date complaint received

      14th April 2015

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 3 Harassment

   Decision of the Complaints Committee 00451-15 Tomlin v Nottingham Post

Summary of complaint

1. Simon Tomlin complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Nottingham Post had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 3 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined, “’Deluded’ net troll hunted by police”, published online on 20 November 2014 and in print on 21 November 2014. 

2. The article reported that the complainant had been found guilty in his absence of two charges of harassment, and three charges under the Communications Act 2003 and the Mallicious Communications Act. It also reported that a warrant had been issued for his arrest on 20 November. 

3. The complainant said that there had been no “hunt” or “manhunt” for him as described in the articles; he had answered the warrant for his arrest on 27 November. He also said that it was inaccurate to suggest that he had been charged with “threatening behaviour”, and denied having suggested that one of his victims was at risk of “murderous reprisals”. He had not “falsely” claimed to have seen her in stockings and suspenders, he had seen her dressed in these items. He also said that, contrary to the report, he had not been aware that the prosecution intended to apply for a criminal behaviour order. Furthermore, he was 46 years old, not 45, and was not resident at the address given in the article,; this was his mother’s address. 

4. The complainant said that the publication of his mother’s address had intruded into her privacy. 

5. The newspaper acknowledged that it had incorrectly reported the complainant’s age; his 46th birthday had been three weeks before the trial.  In circumstances where a warrant had been issued which authorised the search for and arrest of the complainant, it was not inaccurate to describe him as “hunted”. 

6. The article had not said that the complainant had been convicted of “threatening behaviour”; rather it had made reference to his posting “threatening and abusive comments”. This had been heard by the court, and the newspaper’s reporter had taken detailed notes of proceedings. The newspaper said that the reported address was the address given in a court document supplied to the Press.  All other information disputed by the complainant had been heard in court, and was included in the shorthand reporter’s notes that the newspaper provided to IPSO. 

Relevant Code Provisions

7. 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. 

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

Clause 3 (Privacy) 

i) Everyone is entitled to respect for his or her private and family life, home, health and correspondence. 

Findings of the Committee

8. In circumstances where the complainant had not been in attendance at court when he was convicted and a warrant issued for his arrest, it was not inaccurate to describe the search for him as a “manhunt”. The discrepancy between the complainant’s reported age of 45 and true age of 46 did not represent a significant inaccuracy requiring correction under the terms of Clause 1 (ii). 

9. The other points disputed by the complainant were corroborated by the reporter’s shorthand notes. The complainant had not been present in court, and was not therefore in a position to dispute the accuracy of the notes. There was no breach of Clause 1. 

10. The newspaper was entitled to publish the address given in court. 

Conclusions

11. The complaint was not upheld. 

Remedial Action Required

N/A 

Date complaint received: 28/01/2015

Date decision issued: 14/04/2015