Ruling

09178-15 Sarao v Hamilton Advertiser

    • Date complaint received

      25th February 2016

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Decision of the Complaints Committee 09178-15 Sarao v Hamilton Advertiser

Summary of complaint

1. Marco Sarao complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Hamilton Advertiser breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Arrest warrant issued for restaurateur who failed to appear in court”, published on 19 November 2015.

2. The article reported that the Sheriff granted a Crown motion for a warrant to arrest the complainant after he “failed to appear” in court on charges of threatening behaviour. It said that Hamilton Sheriff Court was told that “a court citation for the complainant had not been effected”, and his whereabouts were not known.

3. The complainant denied that a warrant had been issued for his arrest because he had failed to appear, and provided evidence that the warrant was in fact issued to secure his attendance at court. He said that he had never been asked to appear in court on 16 November.

4. The newspaper denied that the article had reported that a failure to appear warrant had been issued for the complainant; rather, it said that it reported that a warrant was issued when he did not appear at court, in other words, after he failed to appear. It said that although its reporter had not been present at court during the hearing, the article was based on the court clerk’s minute of proceedings, a copy of which was provided to IPSO.

Relevant Code Provisions

5. 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.

Findings of the Committee

6. While the Committee understood the complainant’s position that the headline and first line of the article could imply that a failure to appear warrant had been issued for the complainant, the article went on to explain that a court citation in relation to the complainant had “not been effected”. This meant that the complainant had not been made aware that he needed to appear at court, and therefore could not have been subject to a failure to appear warrant. While the Committee acknowledged that the wording of the article’s headline and first line had created an unnecessary ambiguity, in the context of the article as a whole, it considered that neither reference was significantly misleading. There was no breach of Clause 1.

Conclusions 

7. The complaint was not upheld.

Remedial Action Required

N/A

Date complaint received: 24/11/2015

Date decision issued: 15/02/2016