Ruling

Resolution Statement: Complaint 00454-16 McConnell v Evening Times

    • Date complaint received

      24th April 2016

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 9 Reporting of crime

Resolution Statement: Complaint 00454-16 McConnell v Evening Times

Summary of complaint

1. The Rt Hon Lord McConnell of Glenscorroddale complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Evening Times breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 9 (Reporting of crime) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Ex-First Minister’s sister stole £9k from OAP”, published on 28 January 2016.

2. The complainant expressed concern that the newspaper had identified him in relation to ongoing court proceedings, to which he was not a party. He said that he had not been approached for comment in advance of publication.

3. The newspaper said it had taken the view that it was legitimate to identify the complainant in its court report, given the evidence that had been heard there. When it had been contacted by the complainant directly it had removed the complainant’s name from the headline of the online version of the article. It had also offered to publish a correction if the story was inaccurate.

4. The complainant had declined the newspaper’s offer as he did not wish for anything further to be published. 

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.

(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 9 (Reporting of crime)

(i) Relatives or friends of persons convicted or accused of crime should not generally be identified without their consent, unless they are genuinely relevant to the story.

Mediated outcome

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

7. The newspaper wrote to the complainant accepting that it should have approached the complainant for comment prior to publication, and apologising for not having done so. It said that staff had been reminded of their responsibilities always to seek a response from individuals prior to the publication of stories of this nature.

8. The complainant said the newspaper’s apology and reassurances had resolved the matter to his satisfaction.

9. 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: 29/01/2016
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 24/03/2016