Resolution statement: Complaint 00587-16 Middleton v Hull Daily Mail

    • Date complaint received

      2nd June 2016

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 4 Intrusion into grief or shock

Complaint 00587-16 Middleton v Hull Daily Mail

Summary of complaint

1. Julia Middleton complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Hull Daily Mail breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “‘Look, it’s my gran!’ Hull woman says strange cloud is heaven sent from dead nan”, published on 3 February 2016.

2. The article reported that the complainant had seen an unusually shaped cloud in the sky on the anniversary of her grandmother’s death. It said that she thought it was “a sign from her late nan”. It included a number of comments from her about the cloud, one of which indicated she believed the cloud looked like “a face or head”. 

3. The complainant said that she had not made the comments attributed to her in the article, and that the article therefore breached Clause 1. She said that in the circumstances, the article was disrespectful about the death of her grandmother, and that this breached Clause 4. 

Relevant Code provisions

4. 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.

Clause 4 (Intrusion into grief or shock)

In cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries and approaches must be made with sympathy and discretion and publication handled sensitively. These provisions should not restrict the right to report legal proceedings.

Mediated outcome

5. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
6. The newspaper said that it had relied on agency copy when quoting the complainant in the article, and was unable to provide a record of all of the complainant’s comments made during her conversation with the agency reporter. It offered to publish the following wording online in the form of an apology, and in order to clarify the position:

Julia Middleton – an apology

Relying on agency copy, in an article published on February 3 we reported that Julia Middleton, referring to a shape in the clouds, said, “Look, it's my gran!”. We are happy to make clear that she did not say this and we are sorry for any distress caused.

In addition, it said that the editor would be prepared to call the complainant to apologise verbally.

7. The complainant said that she would accept this as a resolution to the complaint.

8. 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: 04/02 2016
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 12/04/2016