Ruling

Resolution Statement: Complaint 00632-16 Szatmary v The Sun (Sunday)

    • Date complaint received

      15th March 2016

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 2 Privacy

Resolution Statement: Complaint 00632-16 Szatmary v The Sun (Sunday)

Summary of complaint

1. Dr Peter Szatmary complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Sun on Sunday had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 2 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Medics protest in chilly UK but union rep’s a sunbed blocker”, published in print on 7 February 2015, and “Union rep suns himself on beach trip as junior doctors protest in chilly UK”, published online on 7 February 2016.

2. The article reported that the complainant, a BMA union representative, had sent a tweet complaining about having to work long hours while attending a conference at a US beach resort. It reported that the complainant was staying at a £900-a-night hotel while junior doctors were striking in chilly London. The article was accompanied by a number of photographs of the complainant, including one of him standing at his front door.

3. The complainant said that he was at a conference, not a “beach trip”, and had a full schedule every day. He said that the conference had taken place in November 2015, which was a month before the first strike by junior doctors. He denied that the room he was staying in had cost £900-a-night. He said that one of the published photographs taken from his Facebook page was actually from his honeymoon, and had no connection to the trip in question. He said that another photograph published had been taken when he opened the door to a reporter at his own home; he said that publication of this photograph invaded his privacy.

4. The newspaper accepted that the complainant was at a conference and not on a “beach trip”. It said that the £900-a-night figure was the price quoted on the hotel website for the most expensive room in the hotel. It said it had taken the photographs from his “open” Facebook page, and that the newspaper was entitled to take a photograph of him from a public road. However, as a gesture of goodwill, it changed the headline on the online article, removed all references to the complainant spending time on the beach, and removed two photographs. These actions did not resolve the complaint to the complainant’s satisfaction.

Relevant Code Provisions

5. 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. In cases involving the Regulator, prominence should be agreed with the Regulator in advance.

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 published the following correction in print:

A headline on a story about the lifestyle of a junior doctors’ representative stated “Union rep suns himself in on beach trip as junior doctors protest in in chilly UK (7 Feb). In fact Mr Peter Szatmary was attending a conference at a beach report in San Diego and was not “sunning himself on a beach”. We have also been asked to clarify that junior doctor’s unions reps receive no payment for their services, and conduct all union business in their spare time.

8. The newspaper also added the following footnote to the online article:

A previous version of story report that Mr Szatmary was on a “beach trip”. We are happy to make that Mr Szatmary was in fact attending a conference at a beach resort in San Diego. We have also been asked to clarify that junior doctor’s union reps receive no payment for their services, and conduct all union business in their spare time.

9. The complainant said these actions resolved the matter to his satisfaction.

10. 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: 08/02/2016
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 15/03/2016