Ruling

02064-17 Saliba v thesun.co.uk

    • Date complaint received

      22nd June 2017

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Decision of the Complaints Committee 02064-17 Saliba v thesun.co.uk

Summary of Complaint

1. Andrew Saliba complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that thesun.co.uk breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “SHAGGY'S TO DEATH Two elderly Brits feared to have been ‘partied to death’ by seductress at bar in Malta”, published on 17 October 2016.

2. The article reported on the circumstances surrounding the death of two British men in Malta. The article reported that during investigations into the men’s deaths, Maltese police had arrested and bailed a “45-year-old Serbian seductress known for preying on elderly men in bars for booze, cigarettes and condoms.” It reported that “two elderly Brit tourists are feared to have been “partied to death”” by the woman, who “picked them up at a bar called Shaggy’s.” It continued by reporting that one of the men “was found suffocated” and the other, had died from “natural causes”. The article included a quote from a source, who had told the newspaper: “She’d make a beeline for boozy, old Brits in Shaggy’s.”

3. The complainant, the representative of the owner of the bar ‘Shaggy’s’, expressed concern that the article inaccurately reported that the woman referred to in the article, had been a patron at the bar. It said that the prominence given to the bar’s name in the article’s headline, was misleading, as it implied that there was a link between the bar, and the police investigation taking place in Malta.

4. The newspaper did not accept a breach of the Code. It said that a local source had told the journalist that the woman had met the men at the bar. The newspaper provided the shorthand notes taken by the reporter; the transcript of the notes provided by the newspaper recorded the source as saying "People say she zeroes in on old English guys in Shaggy's Bar – it's full of them."

5. It said the story did not allege that the woman referred to in the article had committed a crime, that the bar was responsible for the men’s deaths, or that it was associated with the ongoing police investigation in Malta. It said that the prominence given to the bar’s name in the headline was a decision taken only on the basis that the name could be amusing to some readers.

Relevant Code provisions

6. 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.

Findings of the Committee

7. The newspaper had provided notes which recorded locals saying that the woman referred to in the article, had been a patron at the bar. There was no failure to take care over the accuracy of the article on this point. The Committee did not accept that by reporting this, the newspaper had suggested that the bar was associated with, or responsible for the men’s deaths, so any inaccuracy was not significant. There was no breach of Clause 1.

Conclusion

8. The complaint was not upheld.

Remedial Action Required

9. N/A

Date complaint received: 16/03/2017 
Date complaint concluded: 06/06/2017