Ruling

Resolution Statement 01235-17 Patil v Daily Mail

    • Date complaint received

      14th September 2017

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 3 Harassment

Resolution Statement 01235-17 Patil v Daily Mail

1. Neeraj Patil complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Daily Mail breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 3 (Harassment) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Speaker accused of pulling punches on Keith Vaz in row over donations”, published on 13 February. The article was also published online with the headline: “Speaker accused of pulling punches on police investigations into Keith Vaz after receiving thousands from donors linked to the Labour MP”.

2. The article claimed that individuals with connections to Keith Vaz MP had donated money to John Bercow MP, the Speaker of the House of Commons.  It reported that the previous day, the Speaker had “denied blocking an attempt to tell Parliament about police investigations into Keith Vaz because he had receive thousands from donors linked to the MP”. The article referred to the complainant, along with a number of others, as an example of such a donor. In that context, it reported that the complainant had given Mr Bercow a bust depicting himself. The article was accompanied by a photograph of the complainant presenting Mr Bercow with a bust of himself.

3. The complainant said it was inaccurate to suggest his donation to Mr Bercow was linked to Mr Vaz; he said that Mr Vaz had nothing to do with his donation. He said that he personally knew Mr Bercow, that he believed that he was doing a good job as Speaker. He said that he felt harassed by the article, and the publication of the photograph depicting him.

4. The newspaper said that the article did not claim that Mr Vaz had influenced the complainant’s donation to Mr Bercow, or make any suggestions of wrong doing by the complainant. It denied that it had harassed the complainant.

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 3 (Harassment)

i) Journalists must not engage in intimidation, harassment or persistent pursuit.

ii) They must not persist in questioning, telephoning, pursuing or photographing individuals once asked to desist; nor remain on property when asked to leave and must not follow them. If requested, they must identify themselves and whom they represent.

iii)  Editors must ensure these principles are observed by those working for them and take care not to use non-compliant material from other sources.

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 references to the complainant from the online article, and to publish the following clarification in print, and online:

An article on 13 February reported that businessman and Labour councillor Neeraj Patil donated £2,500 through his business Dreamsland to the election funds of House of Commons Speaker John Bercow. We are happy to make clear that we are not aware of any evidence that Dr Patil was influenced by Keith Vaz or other MPs in this decision and apologise for any contrary impression given.

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: 13/02/2017
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 19/06/2017