Resolution Statement 00638-17 Singh v Daily Mail

    • Date complaint received

      17th August 2017

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 2 Privacy

Resolution Statement 00638-17 Singh v Daily Mail

1. Varinder Singh complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Daily Mail breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 2 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in relation to an article headlined "Honey-trap woman appears every inch the happy bride as she gazes into her new husband's eyes only yards away from where her ex-lover MURDERED”, published on 23 July 2016.

2. The article related to photographs taken of the complainant and his recently married wife, Mundill Mahil, in the context of her previous conviction for causing grievous bodily harm for the role she had played in the murder of Gagandip Singh. The article explained that Gagandip Singh had been killed in Greenwich Park, and that the complainant and his new wife had “returned to the spot in Greenwich for her wedding photos”. It noted that this location was 25 miles from where the marriage ceremony took place. It reported that this had “provoked fury” from the family of Gagandip Singh. The article referred to Gagandip Singh as Ms Mahil’s “ex-lover” and “ex-boyfriend”. In a caption to a photograph of the complainant and his wife in formal wear, it reported that at her wedding, Ms Mahil had worn a “£3,000 bespoke wedding dress”. The article reported that Ms Mahil had changed her name, and gave her new name.

3. The complainant said that the photograph in question was not an official wedding photo, and had in fact been taken before the wedding; he said that this undermined the entire premise of the article. The complainant said that the article did not clearly demarcate between Ms Mahil’s conviction for grievous bodily harm in relation to the death of Gagandip Singh, and the other two defendants’ convictions for manslaughter and murder. The complainant said that it was inaccurate to suggest that there was a romantic relationship between Ms Mahil and Gagandip Singh. He said that the wedding dress was neither bespoke, nor did it cost £3000. He said that the photograph captioned with this claim about the dress was not in fact a photograph of their wedding, as was suggested. The complainant said that it was an intrusion into Ms Mahil’s privacy to disclose her new name. He said that the article was an intrusion into his private life.

4. The publication said that the photographs themselves were evidence that a “wedding-style shoot” had taken place a short distance from where Gagandip Singh had been murdered, but accepted that it was not an official wedding photo. It said that the details about the wedding dress had come from a source. It said that Ms Mahil’s name change was widely known among her family and friends and that it had been highlighted by other news outlets. It denied referring to her new name was intrusive. It said that while the relationship between Ms Mahil and Gagandip Singh was romantic on his part, it accepted that it was unclear whether this was reciprocated by Ms Mahil. It said that the article made clear that Ms Mahil was cleared of murder, but convicted of grievous bodily harm. It said that marriage is a public event, and denied that the article intruded on the complainant’s privacy.

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. 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.

Clause 2 (Privacy)

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

ii) Editors will be expected to justify intrusions into any individual's private life without consent. Account will be taken of the complainant's own public disclosures of information.

iii) It is unacceptable to photograph individuals, without their consent, in public or private places where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Mediated Outcome

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

7. Following IPSO’s intervention, the publication offered to remove the words “official wedding photos” from the article, remove the reference to Ms Mahil being Gagandip Singh’s “ex-lover” or “ex-boyfriend”, remove the reference to Ms Mahil changing her name, amend the article to refer to Ms Mahil wearing a wedding dress “rumoured to have cost up to £3,000”, and to delete the image of the complainant and his wife in formal attire. It offered to publish the following wording as a footnote to the article:

An earlier version of this article said that Varinder Singh and Mundill Mahil had posed for their “official wedding photos” in Greenwich Park. The article has been amended to clarify that in fact the photo published was taken before the wedding. It also said that the late Gagandip Singh was an “ex-lover” and “ex-boyfriend” of Mundill Mahil. We are happy to clarify that no claim of a romantic relationship was made during Ms Mahil’s trial. We have further amended the article to the effect that the cost of the wedding dress worn by Ms Mahil was rumoured to have been £3000.

8. The complainant said that this 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: 25/01/2017
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 08/06/2017