Resolution Statement – 20873-17 Johnson v Daily Star Sunday

    • Date complaint received

      2nd August 2018

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement - 20873-17 Johnson v Daily Star Sunday

Summary of complaint 

1.  David Johnson, acting on behalf of Adam Johnson, complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Daily Star Sunday breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an online article headlined “Footie nonce Adam Johnson urged to switch to Islam for PROTECTION in prison”, published on 30 July 2017; and an online article headlined “Footie perv Adam Johnson in TEARS as prison inmates chant ‘rapist’ in jail”, published on 3 September 2017. 

2. The complainant said that the newspaper had inaccurately reported that his son, Adam Johnson, had received threats to slash his throat in prison; that he had attended prayer meetings in return for protection; that he had converted to Islam and had been witnessed praying. These claims were untrue. 

3. The newspaper denied that it had breached the Code. It said that the information regarding Adam Johnson being urged to convert to Islam had been provided by a reliable freelance journalist whose trusted source had direct knowledge of the prison. It was in the public interest to report the source’s claims: there had been an increase in prisoners converting to Islam, and when a high-profile prisoner was involved, it was all the more interesting to readers. 

4.  The newspaper noted that its article had not reported that Mr Johnson had converted to Islam; it had stated that he had been “urged” to do so. It said that it had not sought Adam Johnson’s comments on the allegations because it did not seek comment from convicted criminals serving time in jail. It said that it was difficult to verify stories about prisoners, especially when the prisoner does not have a representative on the outside who can be contacted for comment. 

5.  The newspaper said that it would be happy to publish Mr Johnson’s denial of the allegations, and it suggested the following wording for publication in print and online:

On 30 July 2017, we reported that Adam Johnson had been offered protection by a gang of Muslim prisoners following threats to slash his throat. We also said that whilst he had not yet taken up the gangs offer, he had attended a couple of prayer sessions. Following the publication of this report, Mr Johnson has contacted the newspaper to deny that any of these events are true. 

Relevant Code provisions 

6.   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. 

Mediated outcome 

7.  The newspaper offered to remove the articles from its website, and it agreed to contact the complainant, if it needed to verify information which it received about Adam Johnson. 

8.  The complainant accepted the newspaper’s offer as a resolution to the complaint. 

9.  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: 20/03/2018

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 18/07/2018