Ruling

14223-16 Various v Daily Record

    • Date complaint received

      6th April 2017

    • Outcome

      Breach - sanction: action as offered by publication

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Decision of the Complaints Committee 14223-16 Various v Daily Record

Summary of Complaint

1. The Independent Press Standards Organisation received a number of complaints that the Daily Record breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Horror story: Football pervert terrorised boys at spooky castle”, published on 14 December 2016. The article was also published online with the headline “Pervert scout Gordon Neely frightened boys into staying in his room during ‘ghost weekends’ at castle”.

2. The article reported on allegations of sexual abuse of young boys against a former football scout, Gordon Neely. It contained accounts of his alleged victims, who said they had been abused during an outdoor retreat centre for youth football players. The article reported that he had “been accusing of raping and abusing boys while working as a scout for Rangers and Hibs in the 1980s and 90s”.

3. IPSO received eight complaints about the article, all of which raised similar issues. The complainants said that the article was inaccurate because it had not been claimed that the allegations of abuse took place whilst Mr Neely was a scout for Glasgow Rangers.

4. The newspaper said that the inclusion of the line complained of was the result a genuine mistake made during the sub-editing process. While accepting that this meant the article had contained an inaccuracy, the newspaper denied that this inaccuracy was significant, in the context of a report on serious allegations surrounding Mr Neely.

5. The newspaper said that, following a complaint from Rangers FC, it had agreed with them to amend the online copy by removing the inaccurate reference to Rangers and Hibernian football clubs. It had also published a correction in its Corrections and Complaints column on page 4 in the next day’s print edition; it said that this had resulted in the correction to be further forward in the newspaper than the line complained of, which had been on page 5. It also published a footnote on the online article and a stand-alone correction online. The correction stated:

An article in yesterday’s paper said football scout Gordon Neely had been accused of raping and abusing boys while working for Rangers and Hibernian. We would like to make clear that these allegations do not relate to his time at either club and apologise for any offence caused.

6. The complainants expressed concern that the published correction was inadequate and the published print correction was not sufficiently prominent, given that the article had been referred to on the front page.

Relevant Code Provisions

7. 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.

Findings of the Committee

8. The Committee acknowledged that the article contained only a brief reference to Rangers & Hibernian FC. However given that the allegations were that Mr Neely had been able to use his position in football clubs to obtain access to young boys, an inaccuracy relating to the the identification of his employers at the time of the alleged offences, was a significant detail such that the inaccuracy required correction under Clause 1 (ii), and which led to a led there to be a failure to take care not to publish inaccurate information, in breach of Clause 1 (i). 

9. The identification of Mr Neely’s employers was a significant detail such that the inaccuracy required correction under Clause 1 (ii). The newspaper had amended the online article and published a stand-alone correction, which identified the inaccuracy, and made clear the correct position. The newspaper had also published the correction in the next day’s print edition and the Committee noted that than the correction occupied the same position as the original double-page spread of the story in which the inaccuracy appearedthe correction had featured further forward in the newspaper than the inaccuracy complained of. In those circumstances, the Committee considered that the newspaper had acted promptly and in compliance with its obligations under Clause 1 (ii). There was no further breach of the Code on this point.

Conclusions

10. The complaint was upheld.

Remedial Action Required

11. Having upheld a breach of Clause 1 (i), the Committee considered what remedial action should be required. The Committee considered that the breach of Clause 1 had been appropriately remedied by the publication of the correction in print, the amendment of the online article, and the publication of a correction as a footnote and in a stand-alone correction page online. The Committee did not therefore require any further remedial action.

Date complaint received: 14/12/2016
Date decision issued: 06/04/2017