Ruling

01348-14 Hope v Dumfries and Galloway Standard

    • Date complaint received

      15th May 2015

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

·Decision of the Complaints Committee 01348-14 Hope v Dumfries and Galloway Standard

Summary of complaint 

1. Jonathan Hope complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Dumfries and Galloway Standard had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Kids porn shame of Queens bidder”, 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 “angry” when this had been discovered. It said that he had been convicted in 2003 under the name “Steven Hope”. The article also reported that the complainant claimed to have been involved in the transfer of the footballer Danny Welbeck, but that this had been denied by the clubs and representatives of the player. 

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 contrary to the claims in the article he had been trying to broker a deal between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, although he had not spoken to Mr Welbeck or his representative directly. 

4. 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. 

5. 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. 

6. After the complainant had been interviewed on the radio, Danny Welbeck’s representatives had contacted Radio 5 Live to say that the complainant had not been involved in the deal, even as a middleman. A representative of the Welbeck brothers told the newspaper “I will spell out the position of the Welbecks so there is absolutely no room for doubt. Jonathan Hope is a person we have never heard of, until he went on national radio”. The newspaper had contacted the player’s representatives and the clubs concerned who had confirmed that the complainant had no involvement with the transfer. 

7. 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. 

8. The newspaper raised serious concerns about the conduct of the complainant during the course of Ipso’s investigation. 

Relevant Code Provisions

9. 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

10. The complainant had appeared on the radio, and was interviewed on the premise that he was “the man brokering a deal” for Danny Welbeck, and he had not corrected that description of him. During the course of the interview he had suggested that he was actively engaged in the deal, and was in direct discussion with the parties. The reporter subsequently contacted the complainant and the football clubs concerned. As such, the Committee was satisfied that there had not been a failure to take care over the accuracy of the article; there was no breach of Clause 1 (i). The newspaper had been entitled to report that the clubs denied having any involvement with the complainant. There was no breach of the Code on this point. 

11. 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. 

12. 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

13. The complaint was not upheld. 

Remedial Action Required

N/A 

Date complaint received: 27/03/2015

Date decision issued: 15/05/2015