Ruling

12322-15 Heaps v Nottingham Post

    • Date complaint received

      7th April 2016

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Decision of the Complaints Committee 12322-15 Heaps v Nottingham Post

Summary of complaint

1.Katie Heaps complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Nottingham Post breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Voyeur could face jail for taking photos up women’s skirts at Broadmarsh Centre”, published online on 21 December 2015, and “Man took 80 photos up women’s skirts”, published in print on 22 December 2015.

2. The article reported that a man had been convicted of taking photographs up women’s skirts. It said that the man, who pleaded guilty to the offences at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court, was from Watnall Road, Hucknall.

3. The online article was substantively the same as the version that appeared in print.

4. The complainant said it was inaccurate to report that the convicted man lived on Watnall Road, Hucknall, as she now owned the property he once lived in. She said that the man had confirmed in court that he no longer lived at that address; she provided a letter from his solicitor confirming this. She said that the reporter had later contacted the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to confirm the man’s new address. The complainant said that she contacted the newspaper on the day the article was published, but was advised that they would not change the address unless she could provide a new one.

5. The newspaper denied that the article was inaccurate. It said that its reporter was present in court during proceedings, and his shorthand note confirmed that the convicted man’s address was Watnall Road. The reporter recalled this being read out in open court; he had no note, or recollection, of this being disputed by the man. The newspaper denied that the reporter had contacted the CPS to get the man’s new address; however, it said that the reporter did check the address given in court against the address on the court list as a matter of good practice. It said that when the man was sentenced three weeks later, it covered the hearing and reported, as was confirmed in court on this occasion, that he was of no fixed abode. It also included a footnote to that article which said:

The Post previously reported that Jackson was of Watnall Road in Hucknall. We can now confirm he no longer lives at that address.

The newspaper also offered to add a similarly worded footnote to the online version of the original article.

Relevant Code Provisions

6. 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

7. There were conflicting accounts from the complainant and newspaper as to whether the convicted man had said in court that he no longer lived on Watnall Road. However, the reporter had been entitled to rely on the information contained in the official court list, and in any event no house number was published; there was no breach of Clause 1(i).

8. It was not in dispute that the man did not live on Watnall Road at the time he appeared in court, and the Committee welcomed the publication of a footnote clarifying this. While it was unable to reconcile the accounts from the complainant and the newspaper in relation to what was said in court, as the article did not identify the number of the property where he had lived, it did not consider that any inaccuracy would have been significant so as to require correction under Clause 1(ii).

Conclusions

9. The complaint was not upheld.

Remedial Action Required

N/A

Date complaint received: 31/12/2015
Date decision issued: 21/03/2016