Ruling

05893-15 Kudmany v Southern Daily Echo

    • Date complaint received

      10th December 2015

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 2 Privacy

· Decision of the Complaints Committee 05893-15 Kudmany v Southern Daily Echo

Summary of complaint

1. Malick Kudmany complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Southern Daily Echo breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 2 (Opportunity to reply) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Bans after punch-up”,  published on 26 August 2015.

2. The print article reported that the complainant was one of two cricketers who received match bans following a “brawl” that broke out between them at a local match. The article claimed that the two cricketers “came to blows”, and went on to claim that “the pair set upon each other, trading punches as they rolled around on the wicket”. The online article did not contain the alleged inaccuracies, and was not under complaint.

3. The complainant said that it was inaccurate to describe the incident as a “brawl”, a “punch-up”, or to claim that he had traded punches with the other player. He said that this gave the inaccurate impression that he had engaged in a physical confrontation. In fact, although the incident started after he used offensive language towards the other player, he was then subject to a prolonged assault in which he made no effort to fight back, or retaliate. He provided an account of the incident from his cricket club secretary, who was a standing umpire at the match. On this account, the complainant was struck by the other player after he used offensive language towards him, but did not strike back or retaliate, only using his hands to protect his face and glasses. The complainant said that neither he nor his club were contacted by the newspaper for their version of events.

4. The newspaper said that the journalist spoke to an eyewitness, and the Hampshire cricket authorities who had confirmed that the incident took place, and the penalties imposed. In response to the complaint, the newspaper said that it had two eye witnesses who said that the two players were involved in a tussle on the ground, and that one of the eyewitnesses said that both players were “trading blows”. The newspaper also provided a statement from the Chairman of Hampshire Cricket League’s (HCL) Rules & Disciplinary Committee, which said that the complainant received a 4 match ban for racial abuse, and that “as Kudmany was deemed to be defending himself he was not charged with physical assault”. The newspaper said that the statement from the cricket league confirmed that the complainant had responded but had acted in self-defence.

5. The complainant did not dispute that he was banned for racial abuse. However, he said that the decision of the HCL Disciplinary Committee was unsound. He said that he was no offered a right to reply to the allegations. He explained that he did not appeal the decision because by the time he received the full findings, he was out of time, it would have been costly, and it carried the risk of a longer ban. He added that the Disciplinary Committee accepted all of the allegations against him without question as they were only interested in the question of whether he insulted the other player, and whether the other player had hit him. The complainant disputed the accuracy of the eyewitness account referred to by the newspaper.

6. The newspaper offered to publish the following clarification in the sports sections of the newspaper, where the article originally appeared, on the newspaper’s website and on the online version of the article:

“An article of 26 August reported that two cricketers had received bans after a “punch-up”. Mr Kudmany has asked to clarify that although the incident began when he used offensive language towards the other player, he did not in fact retaliate when he was hit”.

Relevant Code Provisions

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.

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

Clause 2 (Opportunity for reply)

A fair opportunity for reply to inaccuracies must be given when reasonably called for.

Findings of the Committee

8. The newspaper demonstrated that it had taken steps to ensure the accuracy of the article: the journalist had spoken to an eyewitness, and contacted the HCL, who had confirmed that the incident had taken place, and the penalties imposed. The newspaper had taken care not to publish inaccurate information, and there was no breach of Clause 1 (i). The Committee noted the complainant’s position that he did not retaliate, the statement he provided from an eyewitness in support of this position, and his comments on the HCL Disciplinary Committee’s findings.  However, the statement from the Disciplinary Committee made clear that the complainant had defended himself from the other player’s attack, and that this is why he was not charged with physical assault under English Cricket Board Disciplinary Model Rules. The clear inference from the statement was that the complainant had responded physically, and in an article reporting on the disciplinary action, it was not significantly misleading to claim that he had received a ban after a “punch-up”, or that the pair had “traded punches”. The article was not established to be significantly misleading such as to require a correction under the terms of Clause 1 (ii).

9. Clause 2 requires that newspaper offer a fair opportunity to respond to published inaccuracies when reasonably called for. In this instance, no significant inaccuracies had been established, and the terms of Clause 2 were not engaged.

Conclusions

10. The complaint was not upheld.

Remedial Action Required

N/A

Date complaint received: 22/09/2015
Date decision issued: 10/12/2015