Resolution Statement: 01580-16 McKenna v

    • Date complaint received

      23rd June 2016

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement: 01580-16 McKenna v

1. Paul McKenna complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Paul McKenna ‘was refused booze on a flight and made flight attendant cry’”, published on 1 January 2016.

2.   The article reported that the complainant had “allegedly made an air stewardess cry after kicking off when he was refused more booze on a British Airways flight”. It reported that “according to [a named other newspaper], he accidentally tipped a drink over a fellow passenger…and launched into a rant which left a member of the cabin crew in tears”. The article also included comments from an unnamed passenger who claimed that the complainant had “clearly had a few drinks”. The article reported that a representative of the complainant had said that he “was feeling unwell on the flight. He sincerely apologises for any offence caused”. The article reported that the publication had contacted the complainant’s representative.

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 which left a member of the cabin crew in tears”. The complainant said that he 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 the article reported allegations contained in an article published by another newspaper, but that it accepted the complainant’s word that he was not drunk, and did not verbally abuse a member of the cabin crew. It said that it believed the allegations had been generally admitted because the article published by the other newspaper contained an apology from the complainant’s spokesperson for any offence caused. The publication said that the article made clear it was reporting allegations made by the other newspaper, and that it had distinguished between comment conjecture and fact.

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, and offered to publish an apology to the complainant on its homepage. The apology would be accompanied by a picture of the complainant, and would be archived on the website’s corrections and clarifications page. The wording of the apology was as follows:

Paul McKenna: An apology

In our article of 1 January 2016, we reported claims that Paul McKenna made an air stewardess cry on a flight to Barbados after being refused alcohol because he was drunk. Having been contacted by Mr McKenna, we accept that these claims are untrue, and that, in fact, he was suffering from food poisoning on the flight which made him unwell and unsteady on his feet. We offer him our apologies for any upset 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.

Complaint received: 08/03/2016
Complaint Concluded: 02/06/2016