Resolution Statement: Complaint 11491-15 Marr v Mail Online

    • Date complaint received

      8th January 2016

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement: Complaint 11491-15 Marr v Mail Online

Summary of complaint

1. Gibby Marr complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Mail Online breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Now THAT is boots on the ground! Photo of 'camouflage' army outfit for sale on Facebook turns out to just be footwear in front of a forest”, published on 25 November 2015.

2. The article reported that a named individual had put a humorous post on Facebook advertising ex-army camouflage clothing. The advert was accompanied by an image of boots on a road side, with the suggestion that the camouflage clothing had rendered the individual ‘wearing’ the boots invisible.  The article referred by name to the individual who had made the post a number of times, and was accompanied by an image said to be of him.

3. The complainant said that the man in the image was him, rather than the man who made the post. He contacted the publication directly, which removed the photo from the article the following day.

4. The publication said that the story had been provided by a news agency and that the subject of the article, who was a friend of the complainant’s, had provided a photograph which he said was of himself as a joke, and that there was no reason to doubt this claim. It said that the article was a light-hearted news story, and denied that there was a failure to take care not to publish inaccurate information. After further investigation with the agency involved in the preparation of the article, the publication added the following as a footnote:

A previous version of this article included a photograph said to be of [the subject of the article], which was provided by him. In fact, we have now been informed that the photograph was not of [the subject of the article], but rather his friend Gibby Marr, who assures us he was unaware that the photograph had been passed to the press. We are happy to make the position clear and we have removed the photograph from the story.

5. The publication said that by removing the photograph, and publishing the correction as a footnote to the article, it had complied with the requirements of Clause 1 (ii).

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.

iii) The Press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

Mediated outcome

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

7. The publication, through its group Readers’ Editor, offered to make a goodwill payment to charity to resolve this complaint.

8. The complainant said that the payment would resolve the matter to his satisfaction.

9. 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: 03/12/2015
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 08/01/2016