Ruling

Resolution Statement 03350-18 Jones v Mail Online

    • Date complaint received

      30th August 2018

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement 03350-18 Jones v Mail Online

Summary of complaint

1. Vincent Jones complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Mail Online breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Murdered student who was shot AND stabbed 'may have been innocent victim of feud between rival gangs'”, published on 23 Mach 2018.

2. The article reported on the death of Russell Jones. It stated that “As the family, including Russell’s father, who is a project manager for a construction firm in Enfield, were being comforted at their terraced house just over a mile from the murder scene, [Russell Jones’ mother] paid tribute to her son”.

3. The complainant said that he was the biological father of Russell Jones, and said it was inaccurate to refer to the man at the house of Russell’s mother as “Russell’s father”.

4. The publication said a reporter had visited Russell’s mother house. A man had answered the door and said that the family were grieving and did not want to speak, but did not identify himself. The reporter then went to house where he believed that Russell’s father lived. A woman answered the door, and said that Russell’s father was a project manager for a construction firm in Enfield. The reporter then found on the internet an image of a man who matched this job description, and also looked like the man who answered the door at Russell’s mother’s house. The reporter therefore believed that the man who answered the door had been Russell’s father.

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 complainant initially wrote directly to Mail Online, before writing to IPSO. Mail Online sent an email confirming receipt, but did not respond further. For this reason, when the complainant subsequently complained to IPSO, IPSO proceeded straight to the investigation stage of the complaints process. Mail Online apologised to the complainant for the delay in responding to his complaint, which it said was due to an administrative oversight.

7. During IPSO’s investigation of the complaint, the publication removed the relevant passage from the article, and offered to publish the following footnote:

A previous version of this article stated that Russell’s family, including his father, a project manager for a construction firm, had been comforted at their house in Enfield. We have been contacted by Vincent Jones, who has said he believes our reporter had spoken to Russell’s step-father. Mr Jones has asked us to record that he was Russell’s biological father. We apologise for any distress this may have caused.

8. The complainant accepted the publication’s offer of resolution, and the Complaints Committee did not make a determination as to whether there had been any breach of the Code.

Date complaint received: 03/05/2018

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 05/06/2018