Ruling

16942-23 Hood v dailyrecord.co.uk

    • Date complaint received

      13th July 2023

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Decision of the Complaints Committee – 16942-23 Hood v dailyrecord.co.uk


Summary of Complaint

1. Garry Hood complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that dailyrecord.co.uk breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Ayrshire bowler kicked off Commonwealth Games team after alleged racist message”, published on 20 July 2022.

2. The article reported that the complainant had been “kicked off the Scotland Commonwealth Games team for posting allegedly racist remarks on social media” and that he had “post[ed] controversial remarks about Prime Minister hopeful Rishi Sunak and Scottish health secretary, Humza Yousaf”.

3. The article reported that the “controversial post has since been deleted”; however, it included a screenshot of a follow-up post the complainant had made. The screenshot included in the article said:

“Been kicked out of Commonwealth Games by Bowls Scotland for posting this on my Facebook.

[REDACTED]

Anyone who knows me will know I speak my mind. This transcends everything in life as free speech. A basic right of every individual.

For clarity I’ve given no opinion on the post, or indeed said I’d be against Rishi Sunak being our next PM, Islamist or not. My support for him can be found on my social media, and my support started soon into the Covid19 pandemic, as he supported many thousands of people and businesses throughout the pandemic.

Since Boris Johnson resigned, Rishi has been favourite for PM, and all I’ve done is re-iterated this, no matter his colour, creed or religion.

I post this to let my friends know what’s going on, as my phone hasn’t stopped ringing & pinging since yesterday.

I wish my colleagues all the very best at Birmingham 2022. Bring back the gold yins!

Feel free to share.”

4. The article went on to say that:

“a spokesperson for Bowls Scotland said they were still in the middle of a disciplinary process and were limited as to what they could say. However, a statement read: ‘Bowls Scotland is aware of messages which have been posted on social media. We are working with Commonwealth Games Scotland to investigate the issue further. Bowls Scotland is firm in our belief that we welcome participants from all communities, nations and backgrounds and there is no room for racism in our sport or in society. We will make no further comment on this incident at this time.’”

5. The complainant said that the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) as it implied that he was racist, and that he had been investigated in relation to allegations of racism. He said that the complaint against him actually related to allegations of Islamophobia in a Facebook post – which he accepted – and that Bowls Scotland had told him that they had not claimed that he was racist. He provided an email from Bowls Scotland, which said as follows:

“You were not accused of racism by Bowls Scotland. Bowls Scotland was approached by the Daily Record regarding your disciplinary case and declined to comments on the specifics. Bowls Scotland provided a general comment to the Daily Record underlying our commitment to equality and inclusivity within our sport but made no comment about you personally.”

6. The publication did not accept that the article breached the Code. It said that the article made clear throughout that it was “alleged” that the message was racist; no claim of fact was made as to whether the message was racist or not. It said that the complainant was suspended from all bowling activity for three months from July 2022 and told to undergo equality and diversity training after posting the following message on his Facebook page: "We're about to see the final moves in our country folks. Sunak (Islamist) & Yusaf (Islamist) about to run our UK!"

7. The publication also noted that the statement from Bowls Scotland, which referenced “racism”, was clearly attributed to the organisation and had been accurately reported.

Relevant Clause Provisions

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

8. The complainant did not dispute that he had posted “controversial remarks” about two politicians, nor that this post had resulted in an investigation into the remarks. What was in dispute was whether the post had been alleged to be Islamaphobic only – which the complainant accepted – or whether it could also be described as “racist”, which was what the article had said had been “alleged” about the post. Where the article – by way of including the complainant’s follow-up post – made clear the original comment related to the politicians being “islamist”, and where the statement from Bowls Scotland included a reference to “racism”, the Committee did not consider that it was significantly inaccurate to describe the post as an “alleged racist message” – it was clear that the allegation and complaints arose from the original posts’ assertion that the politicians were “islamist”. There was no breach of Clause 1 on this point.

9. The complainant also said that the article breached Clause 1 by including Bowls Scotland’s statement. However, where it was not in dispute that the publication had accurately reported the statement, and where the statement did not include any claims about the complainant or the post – and in fact was prefaced by the fact that “Bowls Scotland said they were still in the middle of a disciplinary process and were limited as to what they could say” – there was no breach of Clause 1 on this point.

Conclusions

10. The complaint was not upheld.

Remedial action required

11. N/A

 

Date complaint received:  01/03/2023

Date complaint concluded by IPSO:  23/06/2023

 

Independent Complaints Reviewer

The complainant complained to the Independent Complaints Reviewer about the process followed by IPSO in handling this complaint. The Independent Complaints Reviewer decided that the process was not flawed and did not uphold the request for review.