Resolution Statement 02612-17 Zalcman v Get Surrey

    • Date complaint received

      22nd June 2017

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement 02612-17 Zalcman v Get Surrey

Summary of complaint

1. Larry Zalcman complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Get Surrey breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Man smashed up his mother’s grave headstone in Long Ditton with hammer”, published on 29 June 2016.

2. The complainant said that the newspaper had given the significantly misleading impression that he had vandalised his mother’s headstone because of a financial dispute with her. In fact, he had damaged the headstone due to his upset at discovering that he and his sister had not been referred to in the inscription. He said the article had also wrongly reported that he had been arrested for “causing criminal damage”. Furthermore, he had not been approached for comment, as reported. 

3. The newspaper said that the article had not stated that the complainant was charged or that he had received a criminal conviction; it said that he had received a police caution. It accepted that the alleged financial dispute had not been referred to during the court proceedings, and it offered to remove the reference to it from the article. It said that the agency which had supplied the copy had approached the complainant for comment outside court.     

Relevant Code provisions

4. 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.

Mediated outcome

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

6. During IPSO’s investigation of the complaint, the newspaper offered to remove the article from its website and to publish the following wording in print and online:

In an article published on 1 July 2016 under the headline "Man smashed up his mother's grave headstone in Long Ditton with hammer", we reported that when Mr Zalcman had "appeared before District Judge Philip Glen at High Wycombe County Court [after damaging his mother's headstone], it was expected that he would challenge the injunction [not to damage the headstone again] so full details of a financial dispute between his mother and himself would have been aired", which was based on information received from a news agency. Mr Zalcman has since contacted us to clarify that the incident involving the headstone had nothing to do with a "financial dispute" between him and his mother, but was a result of his emotional upset at he and his sister having been left off the gravestone by his other sister, the executor of his mother’s will. We apologise for any upset caused.

It also offered to contact third party websites, which had repeated the story, to request the removal of the article.

7. 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: 28/03/2017
Date complaint concluded: