Ruling

Resolution Statement 20751-17- McCrory v The Times

    • Date complaint received

      26th April 2018

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 12 Discrimination, 2 Privacy

Resolution Statement 20751-17- McCrory v The Times

Summary of Complaint 

1.  Jed McCrory complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Times breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 12 (Discrimination) in the following articles: 

·         “Worcester face player exodus over ownership uncertainty,” published on 11 December 2017. 

·         “Time to ring-fence players’ salaries,” published on 12 December 2017. 

2.  The first article reported that the Worcester Warriors rugby club was currently up for sale. It reported that the complainant had had an initial takeover bid to buy the club rejected and alleged that he had an “unimpressive history with several football clubs.” It went on to state that the complainant’s priority was to “drive football into Sixways” and that he was interested in the 51 acres around the club, and its potential as a hotel and conference centre. The article was also published online, and was substantially the same as the print article. 

3.  The second article reported that a third of Premiership rugby clubs were up for sale, including the Worcester Warriors. It reported that the complainant was a potential buyer for the club and stated that “he did not regard Sixways so much as the home of a rugby club,” but that he was looking to develop the site, adding a hotel and conference centre, as well as moving football into the grounds. It stated that to the complainant, rugby was incidental. The article was also published online, and was substantially the same as the print article.  

4.  The complainant said that both the articles were inaccurate. He said it was inaccurate for the articles to claim that he was only interested in developing the sites and bringing football into the grounds. He also said it was inaccurate to characterise his record managing football clubs as unimpressive, and to state that he had an initial takeover bid rejected. He also believed that the newspaper also should have contacted him for comment, prior to publication. 

5.  He also raised concern that the articles portrayed him in a poor light, and believed that this would have an impact his future career opportunities in the sporting sector, in breach of Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 12 (Discrimination). 

6.  The newspaper said that the articles were written by an experienced sports journalist, who had spoken to a number of sources who knew the details of the sale of the rugby club. The journalist said that he had been told that the complainant had had a bid rejected, and this had been reported in another sports publication. It said that the complainant had been involved with several football clubs during his career, and in the journalist’s opinion his record was unimpressive. The newspaper said that the prospectus for the club promoted the sale as a large site with potential as a hotel and conference centre. It said in these circumstances it was reasonable to report that the complainant was interested in developing the site.  

7.  Regardless, to try and resolve the complaint, the newspaper offered to make amendments to the online article, and to publish a clarification, agreed in advance with the complainant as a footnote to the online article and in print in the correction and clarifications column.

Relevant Code Provisions 

8. 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.

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.

Clause 12 (Discrimination)

i) The press mist avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s race, colour, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.

ii) Details of an individual’s race, colour, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story.

Mediated Outcome 

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

9.   Following IPSO’s intervention, the publication offered to make agreed amendments to the online article and to publish the following clarification in its corrections and clarifications column and as a footnote to the online article:

In two articles last year (“Worcester face player exodus over ownership uncertainty.” Dec 11 and “Time to ring fence players’ salaries,” Dec 12) we said that Jed McCrory had had an initial takeover bid for Worcester Warriors rugby club rejected and was expected to come back with a better offer, that he was thinking of introducing football to the club’s Sixways ground and considered rugby as incidental; that his interest was in the potential of the 51-acre site as a hotel and conference centre; and that he had an unimpressive record with football clubs. We accept that these statements were incorrect and apologise to Mr McCrory for these errors. 

10. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to his 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: 15/12/2018

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 04/04/2018