Resolution Statement – 01462-22 Gilmour v Clydebank Post

    • Date complaint received

      14th April 2022

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement – 01462-22 Gilmour v Clydebank Post

Summary of Complaint

1. Michael Gilmour complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Clydebank Post breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Teenager ducked under bed in bid to hide from cops after disturbance”, published on 2 February 2022.

2. The article, which appeared on page 11 of the newspaper, reported on the sentencing of a man who had pleaded guilty to three charges and had been issued with a community payback order. The article was accompanied by a picture of the complainant, who was not the man who had been convicted of the offences.

3. The article also appeared online in substantially the same format under the headline “Whitecrook teenager ducked under bed in bid to hide from cops after disturbance”. The online version of the article was also accompanied by a photograph of the complainant. The online article was shared on the publication’s Twitter and Facebook pages; in both cases, the social media posts were accompanied by photographs of the complainant.

4. The complainant said that the article and social media posts were inaccurate in breach of Clause 1, where they included his photograph in relation to crimes for which another individual had been convicted. He said that he shared the same name as the individual who had been convicted, and that – therefore – people had confused him with the convicted and this had led to undue stress and anxiety.

5. The complainant said that he wanted: the journalist to apologise for the use of the photograph in the article; the newspaper to assure him that they would be more diligent in the future to avoid similar errors occurring: and an apology to be published in the next edition of the newspaper.

6. The publication said it accepted that the photograph showed the complainant; however, it considered that those who knew the complainant would understand that it wasn’t him, where the address of the actual convicted man was included in the report and was over 30 miles away from where the complainant resided.

7. Notwithstanding this, the publication said that it sincerely regretted the error and any distress it had caused. It said that it had apologised to the complainant on the phone as soon as it had become aware of the error. It had then removed the social media posts linking to the article, and added the following clarification and apology to the online article:

NOTE: When originally published, this article was accompanied by an image of a Michael Gilmour who is not the same Michael Gilmour mentioned in the above report. The Post apologises to Mr Gilmour and his family for the error and for any inconvenience, upset or distress caused as a result.

8. The publication also published the following wording on page 11 of its next edition of the newspaper, on 9 February:

Clarification and apology

The Post would like to address an issue with a court report which appeared on this page in last week’s paper entitled ‘Teenager ducked under bed in bid to hide from cops after disturbance’. The photo which accompanied the news article captioned the subject as Michael Gilmour. However, the Post would like to clarify that this was not the same Michael Gilmour referred to in the accompanying story. The man pictured was completely unconnected to the published report. The Post would like to sincerely apologise to Mr Gilmour for the error.

9. The publication then said that, if the complainant still wished for him to do so, the journalist who wrote the article would email him personally to apologise for the error. It also said that it had launched an internal investigation into the error, and that its entire newsroom had been given further instructions and guidance on photographs and court reporting. It then said that it would also be happy to publish a standalone correction online, so that it might be shared to social media – and therefore make it as clear as possible that the complainant was not the convicted man. Finally, the newspaper said that it would be happy to contact the complainant’s employers directly to clarify the matter directly with them.

10. On 18 February, the journalist who wrote the story under complaint sent the complainant an email to offer his “sincere apologies” and that, while it was a “genuine error” on his part, he was sorry for any upset caused. He also explained how the error had come about – he had obtained the picture from social media, and was – at the time – sure that it was the same individual who he had seen in court. He also said that the steps usually taken to prevent such an error from occurring had now been strengthened, and that he understood the importance of ensuring that such articles are accurate prior to publication.

11. The complainant said that he did not wish for further corrections or clarifications to be published on social media, where he considered it would draw undue attention to the matter.

Relevant Code 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

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

13. Having considered the actions taken by the publication so far, the complainant said that the publication of the print clarification and apology was sufficient to resolve the complaint to his satisfaction.

14.  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: 03/02/2022

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 22/03/2022