Ruling

Resolution Statement – 09533-22 Dorante-Day v dailystar.co.uk

    • Date complaint received

      11th August 2022

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 12 Discrimination, 2 Privacy, 3 Harassment

Resolution Statement – 09533-22 Dorante-Day v dailystar.co.uk

Summary of Complaint

1. Simon Dorante-Day complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that dailystar.co.uk breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy), Clause 3 (Harassment), and Clause 12 (Discrimination) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Every claim Prince Charles' secret son has made about royal 'dad' - including secret ops”, published on 21st May 2022.

2. The article said it reported on “all of [the complainant’s] claims” regarding his belief “that he is the love child of Prince Charles and Camilla”. Regarding the complainant’s claims, it stated “[w]e all know people who suffer from delusions of grandeur, but surely this one tops the lot”. The article reported that the complainant “has made headlines since the 1990s” regarding these claims and he “spent most of last year being interviewed by perplexed presenters as he was asked about his supposed 'proof' that he was the son of the heir to the throne”. “Last year[…] he claimed that his eyes and teeth were remodelled as a child” and that “[d]espite the scepticism of people around the world , [the complainant] appears undeterred”. The article stated the complainant “was conceived in 1965, when the Prince of Wales was just 17 and the Duchess of Cornwall was 18” but that “the Duchess was pictured at numerous points throughout the year, and was notably a debutante in London on March 25, 1965”. Further to this, the article said that “1965 is said to be five years before the royal couple actually met at a polo match in 1970”. The article also reported that the complainant “claims his adoptive grandparents […] worked in the Queen’s household – suggesting [his adoptive grandfather] receiving [sic] an Imperial Service Award, although there is no official record of this”.

3. The article said that the complainant “made the outlandish claim that the hospital he was supposedly conceived at did not deliver a single baby during the decade which he was born. However, he has refused to name which institution this is”. The article also stated that the complainant had “alleg[ed] […] that Princess Diana was aware of his heritage”, and that “Diana never eluded [sic] to the idea of a secret son between her ex-husband and Camilla”. It also reported that the complainant claimed that “he may have gone through a procedure when he was eight to change his eye colour” and that his “oncologist will tell you that one of [his] lenses is perfectly round and one of them is oval shaped”.

4. The complainant said that the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 because he disputed that he had “made headlines since the 1990s” and said there had not been a headline about him before 2012. The complainant said the article was further inaccurate because he had not spent “most of last year being interviewed”; he said that interviews accounted for no more than two per cent of his past year. He also objected to the phrase “his supposed ‘proof’” and that the article referred to “the scepticism of people around the world” as he said the publication had not shown that he had no proof or that people around the world were sceptical. The complainant also said it was inaccurate to say that the article reported “all of [his] claims” as he had made additional claims that had not been included in the article.

5. The complainant said the article also breached Clause 1 because it reported he was conceived “when the Prince of Wales was just 17”, when he had been 16. He also said it was inaccurate for the article to report that the Duchess of Cornwall had been “pictured at numerous points throughout the year” as he said she had only been photographed once and that this was in private. He also questioned why it was relevant to say that the Duchess of Cornwall had been photographed “numerous” times before he was conceived. In addition, he said the article was inaccurate to say that he was conceived five years before the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall were said to have met at a polo match. He said that it had been stated on television that the two had met at a private flat. The complainant said it was also inaccurate for the article to claim that “there is no official record” of his adoptive grandfather “receiving an Imperial Service Award”. He said that he did receive such an award and that it was an interviewer on television that implied the medal was awarded for Royal Service.

6. The complainant said the article inaccurately reported that he had “refused to name which institution” he was born at, as he had named it several times, and that, further, he had never said he was conceived at a hospital. He also said that he was not the person who claimed the hospital “did not deliver a single baby during the decade in which he was born” as this was the author of the history of the hospital. He said it was also inaccurate for the article to report that he had claimed that “Princess Diana was aware of his heritage” and questioned how the publication knew that “Diana never eluded [sic] to the idea of a secret son between her ex-husband and Camilla”. Finally, the complainant said the article was inaccurate because he had not said, “’So my oncologist will tell you that one of my lenses is perfectly round’”, but rather that his optometrist would say this.

7. The complainant said the article also breached Clause 2 (Privacy) because it showed that the publication had no respect for his private life and mental health. He also said the article breached Clause 3 (Harassment) because it was a one-sided presentation of his claims and because it provided a platform for members of the public to harass him.

8. The complainant said the article also breached Clause 12 (Discrimination) because it implied that he had a psychotic disorder, “delusions of grandeur”, which is listed under the DSM-IV; he added that the writers were not qualified to make such a diagnosis. He also said that Clause 12 had been breached because the article used derogatory terms like “whacky” and “outlandish” to discredit him and his claims.

9. The publication said it accepted there were some inaccuracies within the article and published the following correction:

Correction: A previous version of this article inaccurately reported that Simon had previously claimed he was conceived in a hospital. In fact, the word 'conceived' should have said 'born'. The article also stated that Simon claimed his adoptive grandparent worked in the Queen's household as he had received an Imperial Service Award, and also stated that there is no record of this. In fact, Simon has since advised that he has not claimed the award was given for services in a royal household, but for Ernest's prison services. Furthermore, there is in fact record of this award. The article also suggested that Simon 'had refused to name the institution' he was born in. In fact, Simon has openly stated that he was referring to Haslar Hospital. The article has been amended accordingly, and we are happy to clarify these points.

10. The publication did not accept a breach of Clause 2, Clause 3, or Clause 12, as it said these clauses were not engaged.

11. The complainant did not accept a correction as a resolution to his 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.

Clause 2 (Privacy)*

i) Everyone is entitled to respect for their private and family life, home, physical and mental health, and correspondence, including digital communications.

ii) Editors will be expected to justify intrusions into any individual's private life without consent. In considering an individual's reasonable expectation of privacy, account will be taken of the complainant's own public disclosures of information and the extent to which the material complained about is already in the public domain or will become so.

iii) It is unacceptable to photograph individuals, without their consent, in public or private places where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Clause 3 (Harassment)*

i) Journalists must not engage in intimidation, harassment or persistent pursuit.

ii) They must not persist in questioning, telephoning, pursuing or photographing individuals once asked to desist; nor remain on property when asked to leave and must not follow them. If requested, they must identify themselves and whom they represent.

iii)  Editors must ensure these principles are observed by those working for them and take care not to use non-compliant material from other sources.

Clause 12 (Discrimination)

i) The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual's race, colour, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.

ii) Details of an individual's race, colour, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story.

Mediated Outcome

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

13. During IPSO’s investigation the publication offered to remove the article and associated social media posts.

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

15. 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: 23/05/2022

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 19/07/2022