Resolution Statement: Complaint 07057-15 Wilmer v The Sunday Times

    • Date complaint received

      9th December 2015

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 11 Victims of sexual assault, 2 Privacy, 3 Harassment

Resolution Statement: Complaint 07057-15 Wilmer v The Sunday Times

Summary of complaint

1. Graham Wilmer complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation on behalf of himself and Esther Baker that the Sunday Times breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Opportunity to reply), Clause 3 (Privacy) and Clause 11 (Victims of sexual assault) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in articles headlined “VIP sex cases link to false memory”, and “Therapy link to ‘victims’ of VIP abuse”, published on 18 October 2015.

2. The complainant expressed concern that the article included a number of inaccuracies.  He said that the Lantern Project, which he ran, was not in a “backstreet” as reported. He was concerned that the article implied that the Lantern Project was disreputable, and that he was seeking to manipulate the evidence of key witnesses in cases of alleged child abuse. He also said that, contrary to claims made in the article, Esther Baker had not received UTD therapy and “Darren” had never attended the project. He said that he had not been involved in a political campaign to expose abuse. Further, he noted that Matthew Scott, who was quoted in the article, was not a QC as reported, and that false memory had not played a part in the Cleveland abuse scandal.

3. The complainant said that, in publishing details of medical treatment received by Ms Baker, the newspaper had intruded into her privacy. He said that naming her breached Clause 11.

4. The newspaper said that the article had been based on an interview with the complainant, and comments from other parties. It said that the article was accurate, apart from the reference to Cleveland, which it did not believe materially affected the article.

5. The newspaper said that Ms Baker had spoken openly about the information included in the article, and so there was no breach of Clause 3 or Clause 11.

Relevant Code Provisions

6. 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.

Clause 2 (Opportunity to reply)

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

Clause 3 (Privacy)

i) Everyone is entitled to respect for his or her private and family life, home, health and correspondence, including digital communications.

ii) Editors will be expected to justify intrusions into any individual’s private life without consent. Account will be taken of the complainant’s own public disclosures of information.

Clause 11 (Victims of sexual assault)

The press must not identify victims of sexual assault or publish material likely to contribute to their identification unless there is adequate justification and they are legally free to do so.

Mediated outcome

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

8. The newspaper offered to publish the following correction, in print and online:

Our story “VIP sex cases link to false memory” (News, October 18) made an erroneous reference to the Cleveland child abuse scandal and incorrectly described the premises of the Lantern project as a “backstreet office”. We are happy to clarify that Esther Baker made allegations of childhood sexual abuse several months before receiving stage five only (Reconciliation) of UTD therapy at the project and we accept that Graham Wilmer, its co-founder, is not part of a political campaign.

9. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to his satisfaction.

10. 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: 23/11/2015
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 09/12/2015