Ruling

Resolution Statement 04504-18 Howeson v Plymouth Herald

    • Date complaint received

      30th August 2018

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement 04504-18 Howeson v Plymouth Herald

Summary of complaint

1. Emma Howeson, acting on behalf of her husband Charles Howeson, complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Plymouth Herald breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Jailed businessman faces bankruptcy”, published on 26 June 2018.

2. The complainant expressed concern that the newspaper had inaccurately reported comments made by her husband’s QC in mitigation in court. He had not said that Mr Howeson had been left “deeply ashamed”. In fact, he had said that Mr Howeson had been “deeply shamed”. She said the inaccuracy had given the significantly misleading impression that her husband had admitted guilt when he had always maintained his innocence.

3. The newspaper did not accept any breach of the Code. It said that it had correctly quoted the QC who had used the phrase “deeply ashamed” in court, but that the context in which it was said was not as clear as it should have been in the article. It offered to publish a clarification in print to address this point.     

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. The complainant provided a copy of the mitigation which had been read by her husband’s QC in court.

7. The newspaper accepted that the QC had not said that Mr Howeson had been left “deeply ashamed”; in fact he had said that Mr Howeson was now “deeply shamed”. While it did not consider that this inaccuracy was significant, it offered to publish the following clarification in print, with a similar wording to appear online:

On 26 June 2018 we published an article about Charles Howeson under the heading 'Jailed Businessman faces bankruptcy' in which we reported that Daniel Janner QC told Bristol Crown Court that Howeson had been left "deeply ashamed". The sentence should have read: Mr Janner said Howeson had been "deeply shamed" and that he “would not be remembered for his substantial achievements” which “stretched back decades”. We are happy to make it clear that Howeson, who has been jailed for sexual offences, has always maintained his innocence.

8. The complainant accepted the newspaper’s offer as a resolution to her complaint.

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: 16/07/2018

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 12/08/2018