Ruling

Resolution Statement 07992-16 Etheridge v Mirror.co.uk

    • Date complaint received

      1st December 2016

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 2 Privacy

Resolution Statement 07992-16 Etheridge v Mirror.co.uk

Summary of complaint

1. Bill Etheridge complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Mirror.co.uk breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 2 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “UKIP leadership hopeful accused of cheating for the second time after ex claims she found Viagra in his car”, published on 16 August 2016.

2. The complainant expressed concern that the newspaper had reported that his ex-partner had accused him of cheating because she found a packet of Viagra with his name on it in her car. The complainant denied that he had been unfaithful to his partner, and considered that the newspaper had intruded into his private life by printing details of his personal medication.  

3. The newspaper said that the information in the article had been put in the public domain by the complainant’s ex-partner who had shared it on social media, and it had taken care to set out the allegations as claims. It said it had been unable to get a comment from the complainant before publication, but it had included a statement which he had given to another newspaper.   

Relevant Code provisions

4. Clause 1 (Accuracy)

i. The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text.

ii. A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and — where appropriate — an apology published. In cases involving IPSO, due prominence should be as required by the regulator.

iii. A fair opportunity to reply to significant inaccuracies should be given, when reasonably called for.

iv. The Press, while free to editorialise and campaign, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

 Clause 2 (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.

Mediated outcome

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

6. The newspaper offered to publish the following statement from the complainant beneath the online article:

UPDATE: Mr Etheridge has firmly denied the allegations of infidelity, telling a Belfast audience that it was “an untrue, unfair attack by a woman he loved”.

He added: “The truth is that what would have been a mildly embarrassing spat between two people going through a difficult time during their relationship turned into national news due to unscrupulous political rivals.”

He went on to highlight the way so many of our politicians avoid talking about men’s health issues as if they were a ‘taboo’ subject.

Twenty million men worldwide have taken medical treatments for erectile dysfunction, figures from Fathers 4 Justice indicate that suicide is the biggest killer of men under fifty and, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), one in six men suffers anxiety or depression.

Mr Etheridge concluded “We have to start taking men’s physical and mental wellbeing seriously. These are shocking figures and it is high time the government redressed the balance.”

7. The complainant said that the publication of his statement would resolve the matter to his 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: 17 August 2016
Date complaint concluded: 10 November 2016