Ruling

Resolution Statement 12339-15 Woodward v The Sun

    • Date complaint received

      11th August 2016

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 2 Privacy, 3 Harassment

Complaint 12339-15 Woodward v The Sun

Summary of complaint

1. Camilla & Shaun Woodward complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Sun breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Opportunity to reply) and Clause 3 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “The turncoat MP, the heiress…and the vicious battle over her millions”, published on 23 December 2015.

2.The article reported that the complainants had separated and that there was going to be a “battle” to decide how their wealth should be distributed. The complainants said that there was no such “battle” following their separation, and that they had reached a mediated, amicable and binding settlement several months before publication of the article. The complainants said that the inaccurate claims also intruded into their private and family life.

3. The newspaper said that the article had been based on information provided by a confidential source, who was in a position to know the family’s feelings about the separation. It did not believe that the article was inaccurate, and it did not accept that the information amounted to an intrusion into the complainants’ privacy.

Relevant Code provisions

4. 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.

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

Clause 2 (Opportunity to reply)

A fair opportunity for reply to inaccuracies must be given when reasonably called for.

Clause 3 (Privacy)

(i) Everyone is entitled to respect for his or her private and family life, home, health and correspondence, including digital communications.

(ii) Editors will be expected to justify intrusions into any individual’s private life without consent. Account will be taken of the complainant’s own public disclosures of information.

Mediated outcome

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

6. The newspaper offered to publish the following correction and apology, both on page 2 of the newspaper and online:

Camilla and Shaun Woodward - An Apology

In an article published on 23 December we wrongly stated that Shaun and Camilla Woodward were engaged in a vicious divorce battle over the financial settlement and that their children had taken sides. At the time the story was published the Woodwards were in fact already separated, the financial settlement had been agreed and their children had not been involved in the process.  We apologise unreservedly to Camilla and Shaun Woodward and their children for suggesting otherwise. 

7. Further terms were also agreed as part of the settlement.

8. The complainants said that this offer would resolve the matter to their 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: 16/05/2016
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 02/08/2016