Ruling

Satisfactory Remedy – 17370-23 Vardy v The Sun

    • Date complaint received

      6th July 2023

    • Outcome

      Resolved - satisfactory remedy

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Summary of Complaint

1. Rebekah Vardy complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Sun breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “HE’S A D***!”, published on 9 March 2023.

2. The article described the reaction of a named footballer’s wife to a previous story published by the same newspaper. The article described the woman as being “left fuming after Wag Becky Vardy appeared to make fun of her turmoil”. The article reported that Ms Vardy, the complainant, had posted on Instagram: “’The gift that keeps on giving.’ She followed it with laughing emojis before adding: ‘That’s a little embarrassing.’” It also described the pair as being at “loggerheads” and included a quote from an unnamed source saying that the woman was “livid that Becky has got involved yet again with something that has nothing to do with her. Becky is taking a pop at [the woman] because of Wagatha. It’s really unkind”.

3. The article also appeared online under the headline “My husband [name] is a d*** after being caught flashing at woman in bar, says long-suffering wife [name]”.

4. The complainant said that the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1. She said that the Instagram post was not in reference to the woman or the footballer reported on in the article. She also noted that she had not been contacted in advance prior to the article, and said that had she been so she would have been able to give the correct position.

5. The publication did not accept a breach of the Code. It said that the article did not state as fact that the Instagram post had been about the woman in the article and instead stated it “appeared” that the complainant was making fun of her, and that the woman was “left fuming” after the complainant appeared to do so.  It said that, as the Instagram post was quoted in full in the article and its meaning was presented as speculative, it was not obligated to contact the complainant in advance.

6. However, on receipt of the complainant from IPSO, in its first substantive response, the publication offered to publish the following wording in the Corrections and Clarifications column of the print newspaper:

We have been asked to clarify Rebekah Vardy’s position that she was not ‘making fun’ of ’[footballer’s] wife […], as a March 9 article said that she appeared to have done in an Instagram post. We are happy to do so.

It also offered to amend the online article to state that the complainant denied making fun of the woman and add the following as a footnote:

We have been asked to clarify Rebekah Vardy’s position that she was not ‘making fun’ of ’[footballer’s]  wife […]  in the Instagram post the article references. The text has been amended accordingly.

7. The complainant did not accept the proposal as a resolution to the complaint. She said the article did state as fact she was making fun of the woman, and that she wished for the article to be removed before she would discuss a form of wording and apology which would resolve her complaint.

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.

v) A publication must report fairly and accurately the outcome of an action for defamation to which it has been a party, unless an agreed settlement states otherwise, or an agreed statement is published. 

Findings of the Committee

8. The publication requested that IPSO consider whether the remedial measures it had offered to the complainant amounted to a satisfactory resolution of the complaint such that, subject to fulfilment of the offer, the complaint could be closed.

9. The Committee noted that the publication had offered to put the complainant’s position on record – namely that what she had posted on Instagram did not relate to the contents of the article. The Committee considered that the article was speculative, given the use of the words “appeared” and where this position was attributed to a source. In these circumstances, putting the complainant’s position that the source had misinterpreted the post was an appropriate remedy. As the information under complaint appeared in the text of the article, and the online article had been amended to include the complainant’s denial the remedy was sufficiently prominent and as offered in the first substantive response after the matter was referred to the publication by IPSO, this was sufficiently prompt.

10. Having taken into account the nature of the complaint and the publication’s remedial actions in response, the Committee concluded that the remedial measures offered by the publication were a satisfactory resolution of the complaint and, subject to the remedy and amendments being published, the complaint would be closed.

Date complaint received: 10/03/2023

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 23/06/2023