Ruling

Resolution Statement: Complaint 04700-15 Woolard v The Times

    • Date complaint received

      11th August 2015

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement: Complaint 04700-15 Woolard v The Times

Summary of complaint

1. Joan Woolard complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Times breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Camila Batmanghelidjh: ‘My only crime – I didn’t raise enough money’”, published on 13 July 2015. 

2. The article was an interview with the founder of the charity Kids Company, and it mentioned that the complainant had made a sizeable donation to the charity a few years previously. The complainant said that some of the references to her in the article were inaccurate: she had not instructed a solicitor to assist her with the donation; she had not been asked to have a friend present when the cheque was handed over; and she had not asked to see all of the charity’s food receipts. 

3. The newspaper said that the dispute between the complainant and Ms Batmanghelidjh had already been reported extensively in the press; the facts had been well established. It said that it had accurately reported Ms Batmanghelidjh’s comments, and in doing so had not adopted the statements as true. The newspaper did not believe that there had been any failure to take care over the accuracy of the article.  

Relevant Code Provisions

4. Clause 1 (Accuracy) 

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

ii) A significant inaccurate, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and – where appropriate – an apology published. 

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

Mediated outcome

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

6. The newspaper offered to publish the following clarification, as a gesture of goodwill: 

“Camila Batmanghelidjh of Kids Company referred in an interview (Times 2, July 13) to Mrs Joan Woolard, who sold her house and donated the proceeds to the charity before expressing reservations about the way the money had been spent. 

Mrs Woolard disputes Ms Batmanghelidjh’s account of events. She has contacted us to say that she used no solicitor; that no friend of hers was asked to attend the handover of her donation; and that she asked only to see any food receipts, not all; none was shown. We are happy to make Mrs Woolard’s position clear.” 

7. The complainant said publication of the clarification would resolve the matter to her satisfaction. 

8. 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: 23/07/2015

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 11/08/2015