Resolution statement Complaint 02180-16 Watkins v The Sun

    • Date complaint received

      14th July 2016

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Complaint 02180-16 Watkins v The Sun 

Summary of Complaint

1. Michael Watkins complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Sun breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Wilshere Cop Quiz Over 3AM Brawl”, published on 4 April 2016. The article was also published online on 3 April with the headline “Crocked England star Jack Wilshere faces cop quiz after 3am brawl as he bids for Euro fitness”. 

2. The article reported that a footballer had been questioned by police over a “brawl” outside a nightclub. It was accompanied by an image of the footballer and a policeman at the scene of the incident. In this image, the footballer was looking at the policeman, and the back of the policeman’s head was visible. 

3. The complainant said that the image was an amalgamation of two frames from a video of the incident. One frame depicted the footballer looking at the policeman, but did not include the policeman’s head. The other included the policeman’s head, but did not show the footballer looking at the policeman. The complainant said that the images had been merged so that the footballer was looking at the policeman, and so that the policeman’s head was visible. The complainant said that it was misleading for the newspaper to merge these two images without making clear that it had done so. 

4. The newspaper said that two video frames separated by 0.36 seconds had been merged to form a single image. It said that this was not a significant alteration, and that it did not alter the meaning of the video in any way. It said that there was no intention to deceive as the video in question was published on the online article, and the print version of the article directed readers to view the video on the newspaper’s website. 

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. After further correspondence, the newspaper offered to amend the image’s caption on the online version of the article to make clear that the image had been produced from two frames of a video. It offered to publish the following footnote on the online version of the article:

An earlier version of this story did not explain that the picture of Jack Wilshere talking to police was created from two images from the video.  We are happy to make this clear.

8. The newspaper offered to publish the following correction in the Corrections and Clarifications box on page 2 of the newspaper: 

In a story “Wilshere cop quiz over 3am brawl (4 April), two images from a video were merged to illustrate events in a manner that did not alter the meaning. The two frames happened within a fraction of a second of each other. We are happy to make this clear.  The video is available to watch on the newspaper’s website. 

9. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter 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: 06/04/2016

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 16/06/2016