Ruling

03320-15 Jones v Wrexham Leader

    • Date complaint received

      24th August 2015

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 3 Harassment, 9 Reporting of crime

·  Decision of the Complaints Committee 03320-15 Jones v Wrexham Leader

Summary of complaint 

1. Lynn Jones, acting on her own behalf and on behalf of Amanda Evans, complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Wrexham Leader breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 3 (Privacy) and Clause 9 (Reporting of crime) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Victim pulled kitchen knife out of stomach”, published on 24 February 2015. 

2. The article was a report of criminal proceedings against Miss Jones. It reported that Mold Crown Court heard that Miss Jones had stabbed Miss Evans following an altercation. The complainant said that the article inaccurately reported that the court heard that she had “fallen off the wagon” prior to the incident; “punched” Miss Evans before stabbing her; and had told attending police officers “yeah I did it”. She also said that it inaccurately reported that the incident had taken place on 7 November, in fact it had taken place on 2 November. 

3. The complainant said that the publication of a photograph of her intruded into her privacy in breach of Clause 3. She said that, while she did not know when or where the photograph had been taken, it had not been taken on the day of her sentencing, and did not therefore reflect her state of mind on that day. The complainant also said that Miss Evans had been named in breach of Clause 9. 

4. The newspaper said that the complainant had appeared in court on a number of occasions and that photographs were taken of her at these times. In the absence of any reporting restrictions, it was normal practice to name individuals involved in the case. It did not consider therefore that there had been a breach of Clause 3 or Clause 9. The newspaper also confirmed that the court had heard that Miss Jones “fell off the wagon”. However, the newspaper acknowledged that it had inaccurately reported that the incident took place on 7 November, while the court heard it had taken place on 2 November; that Miss Jones had “punched” Miss Evans, while the court heard she had been “pushed”; and that she had told attending police officers “yeah I did it”, while the court heard she said “yeah I did”. It therefore offered to publish the following correction and apology: 

A REPORT of Mold Crown Court proceedings published in the Wrexham Leader on February 24 contained inaccuracies. In a report headlined ‘Victim pulled kitchen knife out of stomach’ it was wrongly stated that the victim was “punched” when the court was told she was “pushed”. Having been arrested, the defendant had responded to police “yeah I did” rather than “yeah I did it” and the offence took place on November 2 and not November 7. We apologise for these errors. 

Relevant Code Provisions

5. Clause 1 (Accuracy) 

i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures. 

ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and – where appropriate – an apology published. In cases involving the Regulator, prominence should be agreed with the Regulator in advance. 

Clause 3 (Privacy) 

i) Everyone is entitled to respect for his or her private and family life, home, health and correspondence, including digital communications. 

Clause 9 (Reporting of crime) 

i) Relatives or friends of persons convicted or accused of crime should not generally be identified without their consent, unless they are genuinely relevant to the story. 

Findings of the Committee

6. The article reported on proceedings relating to the altercation between the complainant and Miss Evans. It was not in dispute that Miss Evans had been stabbed by the complainant following an argument, and that the complainant had subsequently admitted this to police officers following her arrest. Whether Miss Evans had been “pushed” or “punched” prior to her being stabbed, and the exact words used by the complainant in her admission to the police, did not represent significant inaccuracies. Neither was the error in reporting the date of the altercation. The Committee warmly welcomed the newspaper’s commitment to ensuring accurate reporting, and its willingness to correct inaccuracies. These corrections were not however required under the terms of the Code, and there was no breach of Clause 1. 

7. The Committee did not consider that a photograph showing the complainant’s likeness revealed any intrinsically private information about her, in the context of a court report. There was no breach of Clause 3. Miss Evans was genuinely relevant to the account of the proceedings which followed the altercation. There was no breach of Clause 9. 

Conclusions

8. The complaint was not upheld. 

Remedial Action Required

N/A 

Date complaint received: 01/05/2015

Date decision issued: 24/08/2015