Resolution Statement 00569-15 Williams v Daily Mail

    • Date complaint received

      17th August 2017

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement 00569-15 Williams v Daily Mail

1. Chris Williams complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Daily Mail breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “British Hannibal Lecter tasered after hostel horror”, published on 7 November 2014.

2. The article reported that Cerys Yemm had met Matthew Williams on a night out and accompanied him back to his hostel. The newspaper reported that the victim had died after an alleged attack by Mr Williams, whom it described as a “Hannibal Lecter killer”. The article included comments from friends and family of the victim, as well as a statement from the police on the incident.

3. The complainant was the father of Matthew Williams. He said that it was inaccurate to make reference to cannibalism, as it had not been established that any act of cannibalism had taken place during the attack. The complainant said that reports of a cannibalistic element to the attack were based on statements by witnesses and locals, which he believed were inaccurate. The complainant also said it was inaccurate to report that Mr Williams had taken cocaine before the incident occurred.

4. The complainant and publication agreed to put the complaint on hold until after the inquests were complete and the full details of the event were known.

5. The complainant said that the inquest had found that cannibalism had not taken place, and stated that the toxicology report showed no traces of cocaine in Mr Williams’ bloodstream at the time.

6. The newspaper did not accept that it had breached the Code. It said that the article was based on eye witness accounts, which were accurately reported in the article. The publication said that the findings of the inquest and the toxicology report did not make the article inaccurate, as it was published before the findings of the inquest were known.

Relevant Code Provisions

7. 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.

Mediated Outcome

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

9. Following IPSO’s intervention, the newspaper offered to make a donation to charity and to append the following footnote to the online article:

Versions of this article published in November 2014 wrongly suggested that Matthew Williams was ‘high on cocaine’. We would like to clarify that a toxicology report showed that Mr Williams had amphetamine in his system but had not taken cocaine at the time of the attack.

10. The complainant said that the newspaper’s offer resolved the matter to his satisfaction.

11. 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: 13/11/2014
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 16/06/2017