Ruling

Resolution Statement 02211-17 A man v Daily Star on Sunday

    • Date complaint received

      31st August 2017

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement 02211-17 A man v Daily Star on Sunday

1. A man complained on behalf of Levi Bellfield to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Daily Star on Sunday breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined "Monsters’ Ball”, published on 12 March 2017. The article was also published online with the headlined “Yorkshire Ripper throws jail cell party for child killers to ‘celebrate’ arrest”.

2. The article reported that Levi Bellfield had attended a party in the cell of another inmate at HMP Frankland in Durham. The online version of the article reported that the Ministry of Justice denied that the party had taken place, and that a spokesman had said that “these claims are completely untrue”.

3. The complainant said that Mr Bellfield had not attended such a party, and that the article was inaccurate. In support of his position, he provided a statement from prison staff, which said that there was no evidence to substantiate the article under complaint.

4. The publication said that it had relied on a source for the story. It said that this source had provided information in the past, and is considered to be reliable and credible. The publication said that it had also contacted the Ministry of Justice, but that it had denied the story, which is its usual response.

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. 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.

Mediated Outcome

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

7. Following IPSO’s intervention, the publication offered to publish the following clarification on page 2:

In our article “Monsters’ Ball” published on 12 March we reported that Peter Sutcliffe held a party in his jail cell, attended by some of the world’s most evil men including Levi Bellfield. Following publication, Mr Bellfield has contacted the publication to deny that he attended this party.  A custody officer on duty has said that there was no evidence to suggest that Mr Bellfield attended any such party.

It also offered to add the following as a footnote to the online article:

Following publication of this article, Mr Bellfield has contacted the publication to deny that he attended a party in Mr Sutcliffe’s cell. The Ministry of Justice denied that the party had taken place, and the custody officer on duty on the day in question has said that there was no evidence to suggest that Mr Bellfield attended any such party

8. The complainant said that this resolved 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: 23/03/2017
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 12/06/2017