Resolution Statement 01554-19 Cuthbert v

    • Date complaint received

      23rd May 2019

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 2 Privacy

Resolution Statement 01554-19 Cuthbert v

Summary of complaint 

1.  Roger Cuthbert complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 2 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Man dies after ambulances blocked in for THREE hours by neighbours in parking row”. 

2.  The article reported on an incident which allegedly took place outside a named care home; it reported that “an elderly man died after ambulances called to save him were blocked in a driveway by cars parked there by angry neighbours.” The article did not name the individuals who were alleged to have blocked in the ambulances, but described them as a “couple” who lived in a neighbouring house. 

3.  The article reported a statement from a member of staff at the care home: “'I know that they get frustrated with the parking situation outside of the home. We are on just a small private lane but it was an emergency situation in which unfortunately a male resident died”. The article reported a statement from the police: “We are aware that ambulances were blocked in at the scene but there were no arrests”. 

4.  The complainant was one of two individuals who were alleged to have blocked the ambulances in with their cars. He denied that ambulances had been blocked in at the scene, and said that this was a false claim which had originated from a member of staff at the care home. The complainant said that although he had not been named, sufficient information was published to allow him to be identified, which was intrusive given the inaccurate claims being reported. 

5.  The complainant provided a letter from the ambulance service, in which it said that it was unable to confirm whether or not its vehicles were prevented from leaving the scene. The complainant also provided correspondence which he had received from the police. The police said that when they had been approached by the media, they did not give any indication that the blocking was done by a vehicle or was deliberate; the police said that they had simply confirmed that it had received a report of that nature. 

6.  The publication said that the reporter gathered information and statements from several sources, witnesses at the scene, the care home manager, the police and the ambulance services; all of these accounts accurately reflected each other's description of what happened and confirmed that the ambulances were blocked in. The publication did not accept that the information contained in the article would have led readers to identify the complainant.

Relevant Code Provisions 

7. 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 2 (Privacy)

i) Everyone is entitled to respect for his or her private and family life, home, health and correspondence, including digital communications.

ii) Editors will be expected to justify intrusions into any individual's private life without consent. In considering an individual's reasonable expectation of privacy, account will be taken of the complainant's own public disclosures of information and the extent to which the material complained about is already in the public domain or will become so.

iii) It is unacceptable to photograph individuals, without their consent, in public or private places where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Mediated outcome 

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

9. During IPSO’s investigation, the publication offered to remove the article from its website, as a gesture of goodwill, which the complainant confirmed resolved the complaint to his satisfaction. 

10. 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: 18/02/2019

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 17/04/2019