Ruling

05946-15 Kudmany v The Daily Telegraph

    • Date complaint received

      10th December 2015

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 2 Privacy

Decision of the Complaints Committee 05946-15 Kudmany v The Daily Telegraph

Summary of complaint

1. Malick Kudmany complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Daily Telegraph breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 2 (Opportunity to reply) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Scuffle at the wicket sees village club duo banned”, published on 07 September 2015.

2. The article reported that “a pair of brawling team-mates” had received match bans from village cricket after they had “got into a fight”. It reported that the complainant had received an eight-match suspension for racial abuse, and that the other player received a 17 match ban for striking the complainant. The article was not published online.

3. The complainant said that the use of the terms “scuffle”, “fight and “brawling” was inaccurate. He had in fact been subject to an assault, and made no attempt to fight back or retaliate. He provided an account of the incident from his cricket club secretary, who was an umpire at the match, which said that after the complainant used offensive language, he was struck by the other player, and that although the complainant used his hands to protect his face and glasses, at no point did he strike back or retaliate. The complainant said that neither he nor his club were contacted for their version of events.

4. The newspaper said that the article was supplied by a news agency, who had in turn noted an article written by an eye witness to the incident in a local publication.  The article in the local publication referred to the two players as “trading punches”, and that the incident would be investigated by the Hampshire Cricket League (HCL). The agency contacted the HCL to ascertain the details of the subsequent investigation, and the article was written in line with the findings of the HCL’s Rules and Disciplinary Committee.

5. The newspaper provided an account from an eyewitness who said that the complainant defended himself after being struck, and that both players were “going at it”. It also provided a statement from the HCL’s Rules and Disciplinary Committee which explained that the complainant received a four match ban for racial abuse, and said that “we concluded that Mr Kudmany had right to defend himself so he was not banned for fighting”. The statement also noted that the complainant did not appeal the decision, and explained that a 4 match suspended ban had come into force, bringing the total ban to 8 matches. The newspaper said that the statement from the HCL’s Disciplinary Committee implied that the complainant defended himself when attacked by retaliating. The newspaper denied that the article’s phrase “got into a fight” implied that all parties took part equally, and said that the words “brawling” or “scuffle” did not identify an aggressor. The newspaper noted that the article made clear that the other player was banned for striking the complainant, and that the complainant was banned for racial abuse.

6. 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 not offered a proper right to reply to the allegations, and 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. The complainant disputed the accuracy of the eye witness account referred to by the newspaper.

7. The newspaper offered to publish the following clarification:

“An article of 7 Sept stated that two “brawling” players “got into a fight” during a cricket match in Dorset. Although the incident started when Malick Kudmany used inappropriate and offensive language towards the other player, he has asked us to clarify his position that he did not retaliate when the other player struck him. We are happy to do so.”

Relevant Code Provisions 

8. 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

9. The article had been based on an eyewitness account and on the findings of the HCL Rules and Disciplinary Committee. 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 when struck by the other player, the statement he provided from an eyewitness in support of this position, and his comments on the Disciplinary Committee’s findings. However, the statement from the Rules and Disciplinary Committee explained that the Committee had not banned the complainant for fighting because it considered that he had a right to defend himself. The clear inference from the statement was that the complainant had responded physically.  In an article reporting on the disciplinary action, it was therefore  not misleading to refer to the incident as a “scuffle”, to refer to the men involved as “brawling team mates” or to report that they “got into a fight”, particularly in circumstances where the article explained that the complainant’s match ban was for racial abuse, rather than physical violence. The article was not established to be significantly misleading such as to require a correction under the terms of Clause 1 (ii).

10. Clause 2 requires that a 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

11. The complaint was not upheld.

Remedial Action Required

N/A

Date complaint received: 28/09/2015
Date decision issued: 10/12/2015