Ruling

Resolution Statement: Complaint 04485-15 Siva v Liverpool Echo

    • Date complaint received

      16th December 2015

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement: Complaint 04485-15 Siva v Liverpool Echo 

Summary of complaint

1. Janakan Siva complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Liverpool Echo had published an article headlined “Allerton dentist who left patient’s mouth like an ‘oral bombsite’ faces disciplinary hearing”, on 9 April 2015, which raised a breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

2. The article reported that the complainant would appear before a fitness to practice panel of the General Dental Council (GDC) in relation to allegations by a former patient. It claimed that the complainant had been the patient’s dentist for 8 years. It reported that the General Dental Union was approached to speak on the complainant’s behalf, but had declined to comment.

3. The complainant said that he was not facing a “disciplinary hearing”, or a fitness to practice panel. In fact, the allegation against him was due to be considered by a GDC “Investigating Committee”. He said that this is an earlier stage in the GDC complaints process. He said it was inaccurate to report that he had treated the patient for 8 years as there was a significant period of time in which she did not attend appointments. He said that he was represented by the Dental Defence Union, not the General Dental Union, who had not declined to comment.

4. The newspaper accepted that the allegation against the complainant was due to be considered by an “Investigating Committee”, but noted that an “Investigating Committee” was still part of the GDC’s disciplinary process with regard to fitness to practice allegations. The newspaper said that a press officer from the GDC had told its reporter that there was a forthcoming fitness to practice hearing in relation to the allegation against the complainant. The newspaper said that the article did not claim that the patient had been treated by the complainant for 8 years, but said that he had been her dentist for 8 years, which was what the patient had told the reporter. The newspaper accepted that the complainant’s union was the Dental Defence Union, rather than the General Dental Union, but maintained that it refused to comment.

5. The newspaper took the article offline while investigating this complaint. To resolve this complaint, it offered to keep the article offline and to publish a clarification making clear the dates in which the clinical care took place; the name of the complainant’s dental union; the stage in the GDC’s complaint process which the allegation against the complainant had reached and the outcome of the GDC’s investigation into the complainant’s work.

Relevant Code Provisions

6. 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.

(iii) The Press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

Mediated Outcome

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

8. In order to resolve this complaint, the newspaper offered to write the complaint a private letter apologising for any concern caused by the publication of the article, and agreed not to republish the article under complaint.

9. The complainant agreed to resolve his complaint on this basis.

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: 15/07/2015
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 16/12/2015