Ruling

Satisfactory Remedy – 18621-23 Booley v ok.co.uk

    • Date complaint received

      31st August 2023

    • Outcome

      Resolved - satisfactory remedy

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Satisfactory Remedy – 18621-23 Booley v ok.co.uk


Summary of Complaint

1. Michael Booley complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that ok.co.uk breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article published online headlined “Prince Harry's army instructor 'staggered' by 'complete fantasy' claim in memoir”, published on 22 January 2023.

2. The article reported the views of the complainant about an account of a flying exercise described by the Duke of Sussex in his autobiography – the complainant had accompanied the Duke during this exercise. The article reported that the complainant had said that the Duke’s recollection of the flight was “inaccurate” – and described it in its headline as a “complete fantasy”.

3. The complainant said that the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 because he had never said that the Duke’s account of the incident was a “complete fantasy” – as he considered the article suggested, and would lead readers to believe.

4. On the same day that it was made aware of the complaint, the publication said it accepted that the article was inaccurate to attribute the quote “complete fantasy” to the complainant. It removed the phrase “complete fantasy” from its headline, and published the following correction and apology at the top of the online article:

A previous version of this article reported that Sergeant Major Michael Booley stated that the version of events published in Prince Harry's 'Spare' was a 'complete fantasy'. In fact, Booley has never made any reference to this version of events as being 'fantasy', but believed the reference to flying sorties was 'dramatised' and disputed the accuracy of some other accounts in the book. We are happy to clarify this and apologise for the error.

5. The complainant did not accept the proposal as a resolution to the complaint. He believed that the publication should take the following action to resolve his complainant: publish an apology and a correction; remove the article in its entirety, and pay him financial compensation.

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.

Relevant IPSO Regulations

40. If a Regulated Entity offers a remedial measure to a complainant which the Regulator or, if applicable, the Complaints Committee considers to be a satisfactory resolution of the complaint, but such measure is rejected by the complainant, the Regulator or, if applicable, the Complaints Committee shall notify the complainant of the same and that, subject to fulfilment of the offer by the Regulated Entity, it considers the complaint to be closed and a summary of the outcome shall be published on the Regulator's website.

Outcome

6. 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.

7. The Committee noted that the publication had amended the article to remove the headline reference to a “complete fantasy”, which the complainant had said was inaccurate. The publication had also offered to publish a correction which would appear at the top of the article beneath the headline. The correction put the correct position on the record, which was that the complainant had not made any reference to the event being a “complete fantasy”, and included an apology. The correction was offered promptly and with due prominence, where it appeared at the top of the article underneath the amended headline and the headline had been amended promptly once the publication had been made aware of the complaint.

8. In line with the provisions in Regulation 40 of IPSO’s Regulations; 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:  22/06/2023

Date complaint concluded by IPSO:  17/08/2023