Resolution Statement Complaint 01578-16 McKenna v Mail Online

    • Date complaint received

      21st July 2016

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Complaint 01578-16 McKenna v Mail Online

Summary of Complaint

1. Paul McKenna complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Mail Online breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “TV hypnotist Paul McKenna ‘launched into a rant and made flight attendant cry after he was refused booze’ on board British Airways flight from London to Barbados”, published on 2 January 2016.

2. The article reported that the complainant had been “accused of making a British Airways flight attendant cry in a mid-air rant on a flight to the Caribbean”. It reported that passengers alleged that the complainant was “refused booze after he became abusive”, and that he “launched into a tirade after he was refused alcohol”. The article also reported that the complainant “accidentally spilt a drink on a fellow passenger”. The article explained that these claims were made in a report by another newspaper. It reported that a spokesperson for the complainant had told that newspaper that the complainant was feeling unwell on the flight, and that he “sincerely apologised” for any offence caused. The article reported that Mail Online had contacted the complainant’s representatives for comment.

3. The complainant said that he was not drunk on the flight, he was not refused alcohol and he did not “[launch] into a rant that left a flight attendant in tears”.  The complainant said that he had suffered from acute food poisoning during the flight which caused him to be unsteady on his feet, as a result of which, he spilt a drink over a neighbouring passenger. The complainant said that the newspaper that had made the original allegations had retracted them.

4. The publication said that its article was published the day after the story was published by another newspaper. It said that on the day it published its article, it contacted the airline, which declined to comment, and attempted to contact the complainant’s representatives. It said that in the absence of any comment from the complainant’s representatives, it included the statement from the complainant’s spokesperson which had been reported by the other newspaper, the day before. The publication said the claims about the complainant were presented as claims in the article, and that the article did not say that the complainant was drunk on the flight. The publication said there was no failure to take care not to publish inaccurate information.

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.

iii) A fair opportunity to reply to significant inaccuracies must 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

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

7. The publication had previously removed the article under complaint. It also offered to publish an apology to the complainant at the top of its news homepage. The apology would be headlined “Paul McKenna”, and would be accompanied by a photograph of the complainant. The publication also offered to tweet the words “Paul McKenna – apology” with a link to the full apology from the DailyMailUK Twitter account, which had originally tweeted the article under complaint. The wording of the apology was as follows:

Paul McKenna

An article published on 2 January reported claims that Paul McKenna ranted at a British Airways flight attendant and caused her to cry after being refused alcohol on a flight to Barbados. We are happy to make clear that Mr McKenna was not refused alcohol and did not rant at anyone. We apologise to Mr McKenna for any distress caused.

8. The complainant said that this would resolve 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: 08/03/2016
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 28/06/2016