Ruling

Resolution Statement: Complaint 06828-15 Davis v Mail Online

    • Date complaint received

      30th November 2015

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement: Complaint 06828-15 Davis v Mail Online 

Summary of complaint

JP Davis complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Mail Online breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Police officer is sacked for telling lewd joke about what a Scotsman keeps under his kilt to wife of key witness in Cyril Smith sex abuse probe”, published on 22 September 2015. 

The complainant said that the publication had inaccurately reported that a police officer, rather than a civilian employee, had been sacked for making inappropriate comments to a witness in a police investigation. He said he had complained to the publication on the day the article was published, but it had failed to respond for a month. 

The publication said it was a matter of regret that its response to the complainant’s initial email had been delayed; this had been due to an unfortunate administrative error. It said the article was a follow-up to a piece published and syndicated by another newspaper, which had referred to the individual concerned as a “police officer”. It had also received copy from a press agency, which had referred to a “police worker”. As the information had been provided by two sources, it was published in good faith. While it did not consider that the inaccuracy was significant, it amended the article for clarity. 

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. 

Mediated outcome

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

The publication offered to add a corrective footnote to the article, and to publish the following statement on its Corrections & Clarifications page: 

An early version of our article headlined “Police civilian officer is sacked for telling lewd joke about what a Scotsman keeps under his kilt to wife of key witness in Cyril Smith sex abuse probe”, published on 22 September, referred to Kenneth McKenzie as a police officer. We are happy to make clear that he was a civilian officer working on a short-term contract for Greater Manchester Police. 

The complainant accepted the publication’s offer as a resolution to the complaint. 

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: 06/10/2015

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 30/11/2015