Ruling

13677-16 Foreman v The Daily Telegraph

    • Date complaint received

      15th June 2017

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Decision of the Complaints Committee 13677-16 Foreman v The Daily Telegraph

Summary of complaint

1. Marguerite Foreman complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Daily Telegraph breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined "No one to welcome Harry after his ship docks early”, published on 24 November. The article was also published online with the headline: “Prince Harry docks at port on West Indies tour so early there is no one to welcome him”.

2. The article reported HRH Prince Harry’s visit to St. Kitts and Nevis. The article reported that Prince Harry “docked so early that there was no one there to welcome him”, claiming that early arrival is “not really the done thing in the laid-back West Indies”. It reported that the island’s Governor General arrived in Port Zante “just a few minutes” before the planned royal arrival, leaving Prince Harry “admiring the view from the deck of Royal Fleet Auxiliary Wave Knight for ten minutes before he could disembark”.

3. The print and online version of the articles were substantially similar, except that the first photograph in the online version of the article, which was a close cropped image of Prince Harry, did not appear in the print version of the article.

4. The complainant said that Prince Harry had arrived at the dock before his scheduled arrival time, after disembarking the Wave Knight, which had been moored out at sea. She said that despite arriving early at the dock, Prince Harry was met by a number of people, including the police. The complainant accepted that because Prince Harry had been early, the Governor General had not been there to welcome him when he arrived. However, she explained that the Governor General had arrived five minutes before Prince Harry’s planned arrival time, and welcomed him at this point. The complainant said that it was therefore inaccurate to claim that nobody had been present to welcome Prince Harry, and it was inaccurate to report that Prince Harry had been kept waiting on the Wave Knight.

5. The complainant said that the first photograph of Prince Harry accompanying the online article showed him grimacing, and irritated. She said that it was presented as a photo of him visiting St Kitts and Nevis, when in fact, it was a file photo, unrelated to his visit to the island. She said that the photograph, and the manner in which it was presented, inaccurately suggested that Prince Harry had been irritated at the welcome he had received. 

6. The newspaper said that it was not inaccurate to report that Prince Harry “docked so early that there was no one there to welcome him”, because, at the time that he disembarked, nobody from the official welcome party had yet arrived. However, it did not dispute that the High Commander of the police force, and journalists, were at the dock at this time. The newspaper said that the article had accurately reported that by the time the official welcome party arrived, Prince Harry had been waiting on the dock for approximately ten minutes. It said that two reporters from UK national newspapers had confirmed this information with the journalist.

7. The newspaper accepted that, given Prince Harry had been kept waiting while on the shore, it was inaccurate to report that he had waited for the welcome party whilst on board the Wave Knight. However, it did not consider that this was a significant inaccuracy, given that he was kept waiting on the shore. The newspaper said that the first photograph accompanying the article was not misleading. It said that it was clear that the photograph did not depict Prince Harry’s reaction to the reported events, because the background of the photograph made clear that it was not taken aboard a ship. Furthermore, the article reported that Prince Harry had been wearing a dark blue suit on his arrival to the island, whereas the photograph accompanying the article showed him in an open-necked shirt without a tie.

8. In response to the complaint, the newspaper substituted the photograph in the online article for a photograph of Prince Harry during his visit to St Kitts and Nevis. It also amended the article to remove reference to Prince Harry waiting aboard the Wave Night, and added the following clarification, as a footnote to the online article:

Prince Harry waited on the dockside after his early arrival, not aboard his ship Wave Knight as an earlier version of this article stated. We would also like to clarify that the main photograph illustrating the article, which depicted the Prince looking surprised, was taken earlier in his tour, not on the day when the events described took place. It has now been replaced.

9. The newspaper also offered to publish the following clarification on page 2 of the print edition of the newspaper, in its corrections and clarifications box:

An article of 24 November reported that Prince Harry had been kept aboard his ship, the Wave Knight, when he arrived early on his trip to St Kitts and Nevis. We would like to clarify that Prince Harry waited on the dockside after his early arrival, not aboard his ship. We are happy to clarify.

Relevant Code Provisions

10. 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.

Findings of the Committee

11. The newspaper had accepted that it was inaccurate to report that Prince Harry had waited on his ship, rather than on the dock. However, in circumstances where it was accepted that there was a delay in his being welcomed by the Governor General, the location in which he had waited was not a significant detail, and the error did not breach Clause 1. The Committee acknowledged the newspaper’s offer to publish a clarification on this point.

12. The Committee emphasised the care which publications must take when publishing photographs which are illustrative of the events reported, and particularly of an individual’s sentiment. Given that the photograph accompanying the online version of the article showed Prince Harry amongst a background of trees, and the article reported that he was waiting aboard the Wave Knight, the Committee did not consider that it depicted Prince Harry’s reaction to the reported events, or that it was suggestive of this. The photograph was not misleading and there was no breach of Clause 1 (i).

13. It was not disputed that when Prince Harry arrived at the dock, the High Commander of the police force, amongst others, were present. However in circumstances where Prince Harry arrived before the Governor General’s welcoming party and waited to be officially greeted by them, the Committee did not consider that it was significantly misleading to report that “no one” was there to greet Prince Harry. The Committee acknowledged the complainant’s concerns about the claim that "turning up early is not really the done thing in the laid back West Indies”; however, this was an expression of an opinion, and where the article also made clear that the Governor General arrived prior to Prince Harry’s expected arrival time, there was no breach of Clause 1.

Conclusions

14. The complaint was not upheld.

Remedial action required

15. N/A

Date complaints received: 17/02/2017
Date decision issued: 04/06/2017