Ruling

Resolution Statement: Complaint 00909-15 Booth v North Devon Journal

    • Date complaint received

      21st April 2015

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 12 Discrimination, 3 Harassment

Resolution Statement: Complaint 00909-15 Booth v North Devon Journal 

Summary of complaint

1. Debbie Booth complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the North Devon Journal had published an article, headlined “Asperger’s sufferer hit in face with boot and held down on bed by abusive boyfriend”, on 26 February 2015, which raised a breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 3 (Privacy) and Clause 12 (Discrimination) of the Editors’ Code of Practice. 

2. The complainant expressed concern that the newspaper had reported that she had the “mental age” of a 12-year-old; she actually has the “emotional age” of a 12-year-old. 

3. The newspaper said that the information reported had been heard in court, and provided the reporter’s notes to substantiate this.  

Relevant Code Provisions

4. 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. 

Clause 3 (Privacy) 

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

Clause 12 (Discrimination) 

i) The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s race, colour religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability. 

ii) Details of an individual’s race, colour, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story. 

Mediated outcome

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

6. The newspaper amended the online article and published the following correction: 

In March the Journal reported on the court case of Steven Boni who was accused of assault by beating his girlfriend Debbie Booth who suffers from Asperger’s. It was stated in court and reported in our story that Miss Booth had the “mental age of a 12-year-old”. However Miss Booth has asked us to point that this was incorrect and that she actually has the emotional age of a 12-year-old. 

7. The complainant said these actions would resolve the matter to her satisfaction. 

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: 02/03/2015 

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 21/04/2015