Ruling

Satisfactory Remedy – 18412-23 Birtley Young People’s Club/Birtley Boxing Club v chroniclelive.co.uk

    • Date complaint received

      17th August 2023

    • Outcome

      Resolved - satisfactory remedy

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Satisfactory Remedy – 18412-23 Birtley Young People's Club/Birtley Boxing Club v chroniclelive.co.uk


Summary of Complaint

1. Birtley Young People's Club/Birtley Boxing Club complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that chroniclelive.co.uk breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Police probing video of violent assault at Birtley gym after footage goes viral”, published on 12 May 2023.

2. The article reported on an alleged violent assault that had taken place at a Birtley gym. It reported that a video of the attack had been widely circulated on social media, and that police had appealed for information about the footage. The article also reported that the video had been “[r]eportedly filmed at Birtley Boxing Club” and contained a photograph of the club and its branded bus.

3. The complainant, the gym in which the video had been “reportedly” filmed in, said that the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1. It contacted the publication directly on the day the article was published, and said that the alleged attack had not taken place at the gym, and that the police had known this since the 9 May, prior to the article’s publication.

4. The publication did not accept a breach of the Code. It initially responded to the complainant by saying the article had distinguished between comment, conjecture and fact and had made clear that the incident was “reportedly” filmed at the club, rather than making a statement of fact that this was the case. It also offered to publish a statement from the complainant, putting its position on record.

5. Four days after the publication of the article, the publication stated that the police had updated the publication on the location of the alleged incident. It amended the article to remove the reference to the gym, including the photograph, and added a statement beneath the headline:

A previous version of this article stated that the video had reportedly been filmed at Birtley Boxing Club. The police have since clarified that they understand the incident did not take place at the boxing club. We are happy to clarify this.

6. The complainant did not accept the proposal as a resolution to the complaint. It said that no one who volunteered for the club had been able to find the statement on the newspaper’s homepage and it therefore it considered that the matter had not been corrected.

The Editors’ Code

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.

Outcome

7. 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.

8. The Committee noted that the article had not stated as fact that the alleged assault had taken place at the complainant’s premises. Rather, the article said that the incident “reported” to have occurred at a gym. Four days after the publication of the article, the reference to the complainant’s property was removed, and a statement was added to the top of the article – this statement confirmed that the incident had not occurred at Birtley Boxing Club. In these circumstances, where the information had been presented as a comment and the correct position was made clear several days later after confirmation by the police, the Committee considered that the publication had acted promptly, and – as the wording was placed under the headline – with due prominence.

9. 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 the complaint would be closed. 

 

Date complaint received:  12/05/2023

Date complaint concluded by IPSO:  07/08/2023