Ruling

Resolution Statement 08081-21 Capen Ltd v stokesentinel.co.uk

    • Date complaint received

      20th January 2022

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement – 08081-21 Capen Ltd v stokesentinel.co.uk

Summary of Complaint

1. Capen Ltd complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that stokesentinel.co.uk breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Investigation after Donna Louise lottery operator takes payments from 4,000 players for draws that were never held”, published on 19th February 2021.

2. The article reported on claims that an investigation had taken place after a Donna Louise lottery operator had taken payments for draws that had never happened. It said that “[p]layers have been left 'outraged' with Capen Limited, which managed the lottery for The Donna Louise”. It stated that “supporters were still paying regular direct debits up until January 1, even though they stood no chance of winning a prize”. It went on to report that “As they don't know what happened to the money that was originally paid, the refunds have had to come out of the hospice's own charitable funds meant for children's care. Ms Birks described it as a 'significant amount'”.

3. The complainant said that the article was in breach of Clause 1 as it considered that the headline inaccurately inferred that Capen Limited was taking payments on the charity’s behalf, whereas the lottery funds were collected using a merchant facility in the charity’s own name, and all the funds were settled directly to the charity’s nominated bank account. The complainant added that these easily verifiable facts were omitted from the article. In addition to this, the complainant said that the quote “[b]ut supporters were still paying regular direct debits up until January 1, even though they stood no chance of winning a prize” also implied that Capen Ltd was the entity instructing the bank to draw the direct debit payments, when this was not the case. The complainant added that the contract had been terminated by mutual agreement on December 8th 2020, and that the extent of Capen Ltd’s involvement was issuing lottery tickets based on the sums of money collected, rather than Capen Ltd collecting the funds themselves.

4. The complainant said there had been a further breach of Clause 1 as it considered the quote “[a]s they don't know what happened to the money that was originally paid, the refunds have had to come out of the hospice's own charitable funds meant for children's care. Ms Birks described it as a 'significant amount'” incorrectly implied that the funds had been misused by Capen Ltd.

5. The publication did not accept that the article breached Clause 1; it was satisfied that all the information related to Capen Ltd in the article was accurate. It did, however, offer to publish a statement from the complainant to add further clarification and address their concerns.

6. The complainant did not accept this as a resolution to its complaint.

Relevant Code Provisions

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.

Mediated Outcome

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

8. During IPSO’s investigation the complainant said that if the article was removed from the publication’s website, this would resolve the matter to its satisfaction.

9. The publication said that it would be happy to remove the online article as a gesture of goodwill.

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: 23/07/2021

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 13/12/2021