Ruling

Resolution Statement – 13587-16 Gibbins v The Metro

    • Date complaint received

      13th July 2017

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement – 13587-16 Gibbins v The Metro

Summary of Complaint

1. Angela Gibbins complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Metro breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Charity boss in ‘privileged George’ rant faces inquiry”, published on 27 July 2016, and in relation to a set of readers’ letters published under the headline “Boss should resign over George rant”, published on 28 July 2016.

2. The article reported that the complainant “who reportedly wrote that Prince George ‘already looks like a f******* d****head’ in a Facebook rant will face investigation, her bosses have said”.  One reader's letter repeated the claims that she had referred to Prince George as looking like a ‘fucking dickhead’, and another said that “If anyone’s a d***head it’s [the complainant]”.

3. The complainant said that another Facebook user had posted a meme on Facebook which attracted hundreds of comments. A meme is an image, often accompanied by a short amount of text, which is easily shared on social media. In this case, the meme consisted of an image of Prince George accompanied by the words “I know he’s only two years old, but Prince George already looks like a fucking dickhead”.  The complainant had made comments about children and privilege in a sub-thread conversation with friends. However, she had not referred to Prince George as “looking like a fucking dickhead”. She said that the article claimed that she had done so, which was inaccurate.  She said that the readers’ letters repeated the false allegation.

4. The publication said that its article was published following inaccurate and misleading claims in another publication, and said it was grateful to the complainant for drawing to its attention that she had not said that Prince George “looks like a fucking dickhead”. It offered to publish a clarification on this point.

Relevant Code Provisions

5. 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

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

7.    Following IPSO’s intervention, the publication offered to publish the following apology in its Clarification and Corrections panel on page 2 of the newspaper. It also offered to publish the same wording on its website, with a link on the homepage appearing for 24 hours with the headline “Angela Gibbins”:

An article published on 27 July (‘Charity boss in ‘privileged George’ rant faces inquiry’) incorrectly claimed that British Council manager Angela Gibbins had written an insulting Facebook post about Prince George in which she called him a f****** d***head. The article invited readers’ opinions and on 28 July letters were published in the Metro Talk section with the headline ‘Boss should resign over George rant’. In these readers’ letters the claim was repeated that Ms Gibbins had called Prince George a f****** d***head, that she had used gutter language towards a three year old and she was herself called a d***head by one reader. We accept that Ms Gibbins did not make the offensive attack on Prince George or use ‘gutter language’. We apologise to her for suggesting otherwise and for publishing offensive language about her in the readers’ letters section.

8. The complainant said that this resolved her complaint to IPSO under Clause 1.

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: 24/11/2016

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 21/03/2017