Ruling

Resolution Statement – 01224-24 A man v Mail Online

  • Complaint Summary

    A man complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Mail Online breached Clause 1 of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Diana Legacy Award winner reveals 'surreal' ceremony dragged on for SEVEN HOURS and finally ended at 1am - after [they] shook hands with Prince William at the Science Museum before heading five miles across London to speak to Prince Harry on video call”, published on 15 March 2024.

    • Date complaint received

      10th July 2024

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement – 01224-24 A man v Mail Online


Summary of Complaint

1. A man complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Mail Online breached Clause 1 of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Diana Legacy Award winner reveals 'surreal' ceremony dragged on for SEVEN HOURS and finally ended at 1am - after [they] shook hands with Prince William at the Science Museum before heading five miles across London to speak to Prince Harry on video call”, published on 15 March 2024.

2. The article reported on the Diana Legacy Awards and the chronology of the events of the evening. The article reported that “[a] winner of a Diana Legacy Award has told how the competing demands of warring Princes William and Harry turned the ceremony into a 'surreal' marathon held at two different venues over seven hours that didn't finish until 1am”. The article also reported that a group call with Prince Harry “took place at midnight” and that the complainant said “[i]t was a really long day but everything seemed to happen really quickly over the span of a few hours. It was so surreal". The article reported that “[the complainant], 23, who campaigns for better access to medical careers, said he was flattered to receive an award - but described the proceedings as 'surreal’”, and that when “[d]escribing how the evening unfolded [the complainant] … told MailOnline: 'The Prince William thing was at a completely different venue”.

3. The complainant said the headline of the article, and its overall tone, breached Clause 1 as he felt it was an inaccurate summary of the interview he had given to the publication. He said the interview he partook in had focused on the story of him founding an organisation 5 years ago; and that he described the Legacy Awards in a positive light. The complainant said the statements attributed to him were not an accurate reflection of what he had said, or his views.

4. Prior to complaining to IPSO, the complainant contacted the publication directly and initially requested that the introductory line of the article, “A winner of a Diana Legacy Award has told how the ceremony turned into a marathon event held at two different venues over seven hours that didn't finish until 1am”, be revised to reflect the ceremony's logistics without insinuating that he felt any negativity; he suggested the following amendment: "A winner of a Diana Legacy Award has told how the ceremony was held at two different venues over seven hours and finished at 1am”. The complainant said this amendment was critical for presenting an accurate depiction that resonates with [his] positive experience”. The complainant also requested that the headline be amended to: “Diana Awards ceremony lasted SEVEN HOURS and ended at 1am with winners shaking hands with William then travelling five miles for video call with Harry”. The complainant said this amendment would eliminate any reference to "competing demands" and "warring Princes” as these aspects were not part of his interview, and misrepresented his views and the event itself.

5. The publication did not accept that the article breached Clause 1 in relation to the first paragraph and the headline of the article. It did not consider the further changes suggested by the complainant were necessary or appropriate, and informed the complainant that the headline would not be amended. The publication added that the article did not state or imply that the complainant had a negative experience, and that reasonable readers would infer that ”warring princes” was a characterisation the publication adopted rather than it being based on a quote given by the complainant. The publication offered to amend the first line as he suggested, to report that: “A winner of a Diana Legacy Award has told how the ceremony was held at two different venues over seven hours and finished at 1am”.

Relevant Clause Provisions

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

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

7. During IPSO’s investigation the publication offered to remove the article in full.

8. The complainant said that this would resolve 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: 19/03/2024

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 08/05/2024