Resolution Statement – 17287-17– Jones v Daily Post

    • Date complaint received

      7th December 2017

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 2 Privacy

Resolution Statement – 17287-17– Jones v Daily Post

Summary of Complaint

1. Mark Jones complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Daily Post breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 2 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in the following articles: 

·         “Huge lorry trailer dumped outside Anglesey couple's home in neighbour dispute” published online on 20 July 2017. 

·         “Trailer park clash” published in print on 20 July 2017. 

·         “Anglesey couple's joy that huge lorry trailer dumped outside their home has been moved”, published online on 21 July 2017. 

·         “Trailer parked amid boundary row moved”, published in print on 22 July 2017. 

2. The first article reported that the complainant and his wife had been involved in a boundary dispute with their neighbours, and reported the neighbours’ account of the events. It said that the neighbours had asked to rebuild a small wall between the two properties, prompting the complainant’s wife to assert full ownership of the new wall. It said that the complainant had parked a trailer next to the wall, in front of the neighbours’ windows and said that after consulting solicitors, the neighbours “decided to sign over the structure” to complainant and his wife. The article included a picture of the complainant pointing at the camera, which was taken from the wall in question. 

3. The second article reported that the complainant had removed the trailer from its position in front of the wall, and quoted the neighbours’ assertion that this had resulted from the publication of the original article. It also stated that the complainant had been contacted for comment. 

4. The complainant said that the articles had inaccurately characterised the ownership of the wall. He said the wall had always belonged to Mrs Jones, and therefore there was no possibility of the other party “signing over” the structure. He said that the dispute had arisen because the neighbours had demolished the entire wall, in contravention of an initial agreement to remove only a small section to facilitate building works. He also said that his privacy had been encroached upon by the publication of the photo of him on his own property, and by the publication of the name of his business. 

5. The complainant also said that the second article was inaccurate to suggest that the movement of the trailer had resulted from the publication of the first article and said he had not been approached for comment as stated in the article. 

6. The newspaper did not accept that they had breached the Code. It said that the articles made clear that there were opposing views in relation to the dispute, and that it was clear that the articles were recounting the neighbours’ version of events.  It said that the quotation stating the neighbours had “decided to sign over the structure” was clearly a comment given by the neighbours. However, as a gesture of goodwill, it offered amend the article to state “[the neighbours] claimed that they signed over the structure after consulting with their solicitor. However, deeds show that the wall was already owned by Mr and Mrs Jones”. 

7. In relation to the second article, the newspaper said it had made clear that it was the neighbours’ view that the movement of the trailer had resulted from the publication of the first article. Nevertheless, as a gesture of goodwill it offered to publish a statement setting out the complainant’s position as to why the trailer was moved. The newspaper said it had taken adequate steps to contact the complainant as the reporter he had attempted to phone the complainant and had emailed his wife asking for comment prior to publication.

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.

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.

8.    Clause 2 (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.

iii) It is unacceptable to photograph individuals, without their consent, in public or private places where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Mediated outcome

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

10. During IPSO’s investigation, the newspaper offered to remove the article from its website and from the websites of associated publications, and to publish the following clarification:

“Our article 20 July 2017 “Huge lorry trailer dumped outside Anglesey couple’s home in neighbour dispute” reported on a dispute between Mr and Mrs Hughes and Mr and Mrs Jones over boundary ownership after Mrs Jones had allowed Mr and Mrs Hughes to demolish part of the wall to facilitate building works on their house. Mr & Mrs Hughes actually demolished the whole 25 metre boundary and then contested its ownership. The article stated that after consulting their solicitor, Mr and Mrs Hughes "decided to sign over the structure.” However, an exchanged boundary agreement sets out that the wall did and would continue to belong to Mrs Jones.”

11. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to his satisfaction.

12. 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: 01/08/2017

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 20/10/2017