Ruling

Resolution Statement – 20089-23 A woman v Isle of Man Courier

  • Complaint Summary

    A woman complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Isle of Man Courier breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 2 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Acquitted lawyer gets half her costs”, published on 14 July 2023.

    • Date complaint received

      3rd July 2024

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 2 Privacy

Resolution Statement – 20089-23 A woman v Isle of Man Courier


Summary of Complaint

1. A woman complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Isle of Man Courier breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 2 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Acquitted lawyer gets half her costs”, published on 14 July 2023.

2. The print article – which appeared on page 5 – reported on a court case involving the complainant. The subheading of the print article stated, “a trainee lawyer who was acquitted of money laundering has been awarded costs”. The article reported the complainant “received only 50% of the trial costs she sought as significant parts of the defence case were not disclosed until the first day of the trial”. It stated, “following [the woman's] acquittal she sought to recover 100% of her defence costs.” It also reported, “the trial judge, said it was appropriate that [the woman] should recover 50% of her trial costs, not 100% as sought,” and stated the complainant, “was awarded 100% of her legal expenses incurred to [her lawyers] in representing her prior to trial and [her advocate] in respect of an application.”

3. The article also appeared online in substantially the same format under the headline “Acquitted lawyer gets half her trial costs”. In addition to the above, the online article stated the complainant “also received 75% of the reasonable legal expenses she incurred to [her advocate] in respect of his preparation and representation at the costs hearing.”

4. The complainant said the print article was inaccurate because it did not clarify the breakdown of the costs incurred; she said it implied she was only awarded 50% of costs. The complainant said that she was to be paid 75% of her costs. To support her position, she supplied the judgment of the court on costs. The judgment stated:

a) 100% of the reasonable legal expenses incurred by [the woman] to [her lawyers] in representing her prior to trial in the period May 2021 to October 2022 subject to paragraph 2 hereunder

b) 100% of the reasonable legal expenses incurred by [the woman] to [her advocate] in respect of an application for a temporary advocates licence

c) 50% of the reasonable legal expenses incurred by [the woman] to trial [her counsel] in respect of the trial which took place between the 6th February 2023 and the 10th February 2023, including costs of the 13th January 2023

d) 75% of the reasonable legal expenses incurred by [the woman] to [her advocate] in respect of his preparation and representation of [the woman] at today’s hearing assessed by agreement at 10 hours work

5. The complainant also said the article breached Clause 2 (Privacy) because it included an image of her and referred to her trial.

6. The publication did not accept the article was inaccurate. It said its report was based on a publicly available court judgment, and it had accurately reported on the content of this judgment. While it acknowledged that the second paragraph and the headline would have benefited from the use of the phrase “trial costs” rather than just “costs”, it did not consider the omission constituted an inaccuracy where there were two specific mentions of the phrase “trial costs” in the story. The publication also noted the article referred to the conduct of the defence at trial and therefore gave the reader a clear indication the article was about trial costs specifically, rather than pre-trial or post-trial costs. It said the judgment did not quantify the sums sought by way of costs and stated that there was a dispute over the quantum of fees payable by the woman to the advocates firm that represented her prior to trial.

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.

Clause 2 (Privacy)*

i) Everyone is entitled to respect for their private and family life, home, physical and mental health, and correspondence, including digital communications.

ii) Editors will be expected to justify intrusions into any individual's private life without consent. In considering an individual's reasonable expectation of privacy, account will be taken of the complainant's own public disclosures of information and the extent to which the material complained about is already in the public domain or will become so.

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

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

8. During IPSO’s investigation the publication offered to print the following correction:

An article published in the Isle of Man Courier on July 14, 2023, headlined: ‘Acquitted lawyer gets half her costs' stated that [the woman] received 50% of her costs after being acquitted of money laundering. We are happy to clarify that [the woman] was awarded half her trial costs and 100% of all other associated legal costs (including legal representation, preliminary hearing, trial preparation) and apologize for any misunderstanding.

9. The publication also offered to send the complainant a private letter of apology; to remove the image of her from the online article; and to provide her with a copy of its complaints procedures.

10. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to her satisfaction.

11. 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: 31/8/23

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 11/03/2024