Ruling

01241-14 Hope v Ayrshire Post

    • Date complaint received

      15th May 2015

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

·  Decision of the Complaints Committee 01241-14 Hope v Ayrshire Post

Summary of complaint 

1. Jonathan Hope complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Ayrshire Post had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Porn creep backed kids”, published on 10 August 2014. 

2. The article said that the complainant had a criminal conviction for downloading child pornography, and that the parents of children involved with a youth football team sponsored by the complainant had been “disgusted” when this had been discovered. It said that he had been convicted in 2003 under the name “Steven Hope”. It also reported that despite his conviction, he had visited an orphanage in 2012. 

3. The complainant said that the coverage had misrepresented his role with the youth football club; he was not actively involved with the club and did not sponsor the team, although his name had been put on the back of the shirts as a gesture for his having found the team a sponsor. He also said that the article had inaccurately reported that the orphanage had struggled to contact him after his visit.  The complainant expressed concern that the journalist had used his involvement in football as a means to disclose the fact that he had a spent criminal conviction. 

4. The newspaper said that as the complainant’s name had appeared on the back of the youth football club’s shirts, it had not been significantly misleading to report that he sponsored the club. 

5. The newspaper said that it was entitled to publish details of the complainant’s conviction, particularly as it was a matter of public concern given his involvement with the children’s football club. 

6. The newspaper raised serious concerns about the conduct of the complainant during the course of Ipso’s investigation, including allegations that the complainant had sent abusive messages over the internet to the reporter who had provided material for this report and others under complaint. These allegations (denied by the complainant) formed the basis of a complaint to the police and the matter remains under the consideration of the Procurator Fiscal as of the date this decision was issued. 

Relevant Code Provisions

7. 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. 

Findings of the Committee

8. The complainant accepted that his name had featured on the football kit of the youth team in response to his playing a direct role in arranging the team’s sponsorship. The article reported concerns raised in relation to his association with children in light of his conviction. In this context, it had not been significantly misleading to state that he had sponsored the club. There was no breach of the Code on this point. 

9. In the context of concerns that the complainant had been involved with an orphanage despite having a criminal conviction relating to child pornography, whether or not the orphanage had subsequently struggled to contact the complainant had not been a significant detail such as to warrant correction under the terms of the Code. 

10. The selection of material for publication is a matter for the discretion of individual editors, provided that such editorial decisions do not engage the terms of the Editors’ Code. It had not been inaccurate to report that the complainant had a previous criminal conviction. There was no breach of the Code. 

Conclusions

11. The complaint was not upheld. 

Remedial Action Required

N/A 

Date complaint received: 27/03/2015

Date decision issued: 15/05/2015