Ruling

Resolution Statement – 11036-22 Cross v Daily Mail

    • Date complaint received

      30th March 2023

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement – 11036-22 Cross v Daily Mail

Summary of Complaint

1. Danielle Cross complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Daily Mail breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), of the Editors’ Code of Practice in:

 An article published on 15 July 2022. This article also appeared online on 14 July 2022.

 An article published on 5 August 2022.

2. The first article reported on allegations that a public figure had had sex with underage girls. The article included an image of this man stood in between four women, all of whose faces were pixelated. The man had his arms around the two women nearest to him with the caption: “Sexual assault claims: [man] in publicity shot, left, and with scantily-clad women at a show in 2005”. The article reported that in total “ten women, all of them black, have now come forward with highly disturbing allegations about [the man’s] predatory sexual behaviour spanning a 30-year period.”

3. The online version of the article included the same image, with a caption that named the man and stated that “Throughout his time” working at a professional organisation he “openly made heavily sexualised comments to female stars or commented on their bodies […] (Pictured: [name] at the NEC in Birmingham)”.

4. The second article stated that a report had concluded that there had been a failure  to properly investigate sexual misconduct allegations against the man. The article included the same image previously described, but it had been cropped to only depict two of the women. In this version of the image the faces of the women had not been pixelated.  The caption said: “Allegations: [named man] with models promoting [a tv show] in 2005”. It also reported that the man had “made sexual remarks to a 15-year-old girl” at an event in 2007 and it described a “‘consensual sexual encounter’ in the mid-2000s that the complainant now considers to have been inappropriate”.

5. The complainant, who was the woman pictured with the public figure’s arm around her on the left of the image, said that the articles were inaccurate in breach of Clause 1, as she considered it associated her with an underage sex claim and an alleged sex offender. She said she had not given consent for the publication to use her image. She explained that she had never made any allegations against the public figure, however, she considered that the articles suggested she had been one of his victims. The complainant said that the image used was from 2005 and had been deliberately used to depict an “incriminating, guilty looking, pervy photo of him with a girl”. She said that friends and family had been able to identify her from the articles and had enquired whether she was one of the claimants referred to in the article.

6. The publication said it did not accept a breach of Clause 1 and did not agree that either article suggested the complainant had been a victim of the public figure. It said that the Editors’ Code and the law have strict rules that prohibit identifying a victim of sexual assault, and therefore it would not have published anything that could possibly have revealed the identity of someone who had accused the man of wrongdoing. The publication said that the first article had also made clear those who had made allegations were black women and that no black women were pictured in the photograph. However, the publication did offer to amend the caption of the online article, and add a footnote to the bottom of the article:

“The article has been amended to make clear that none of the women pictured alongside [name] have alleged that they are victims of [name]”

7. The newspaper also said that whether the complainant was pixelated or not did not affect the fact that there was nothing in the second article to suggest she was an alleged victim of the public figure. However, it offered to publish a print correction in its Corrections and Clarifications column:

“An article on 5 August 2022 about misconduct allegations against a [named profession] included a photograph of the [named profession] alongside two unnamed women. Following a complaint from one of the women, Mrs Danielle Cross, we are happy to make clear that she did not make any of the allegations set out in the article”.

8. The complainant made clear she did not want to be named in the correction and the publication offered to publish the following:

“An article on 5 August 2022 about misconduct allegations against a [named profession] included a photograph of the [named profession] alongside two unnamed women. Following a complaint from one of the women, pictured on the left of [named man], we are happy to make clear that in fact she did not make any of the allegations set out in the article”

Relevant Clause 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

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

10. During IPSO’s investigation the publication offered, as a gesture of goodwill, to make a payment to the complainant and print the following correction in its Corrections and Clarifications column in the print version of the newspaper:

“An article on 5 August 2022 about misconduct allegations against a [named profession] included a photograph of the [named profession] alongside two unnamed women. Following a complaint from one of the women, pictured on the left of [named man], we are happy to make clear that in fact she did not make any of the allegations set out in the article” 

11. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to her satisfaction.

12. 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:  06/08/2022

Date complaint concluded by IPSO:  09/03/2023