Ruling

Resolution Statement 20875-17 Johnson v Sun.co.uk

    • Date complaint received

      2nd August 2018

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement 20875-17 Johnson v Sun.co.uk

Summary of complaint

1. David Johnson, acting on behalf of Adam Johnson, complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Sun.co.uk breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Wag ‘Blinded by sun’ Adam Johnson’s ex-girlfriend Stacey Flounders is injured in car crash on way to visit paedophile footballer in jail”, published on 6 December 2017.

2. The complainant said that the newspaper had inaccurately reported that Stacey Flounders had been involved in a car crash while on her way to visit his son in prison. The accident had not occurred on a visiting day.

3. In addition, he said that it was inaccurate to refer to his son as a “paedophile”. He said the term “paedophile” described a “male predator who had sexual attraction towards prepubescent children”; his son was not a paedophile.

4. The newspaper denied that it had breached the Code. It said that Ms Flounders had been involved in a collision and a photographer had taken photographs of the car. The photographer had told its reporter that Ms Flounders had been on her way to see Adam Johnson at the time of the crash. This was information he said he had received from Ms Flounders and the newspaper was entitled to rely on it. It did not consider that Ms Flounders’ destination at the time of the collision was a significant point, and it argued that the complainant was not in a position to know whether she was travelling to the prison.

5. The newspaper said that it was not inaccurate or misleading to have referred to Adam Johnson as a “paedophile” given that he had been convicted of sexual offences against a minor.

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

8. The newspaper had already removed the article from its website, and it agreed to let the News Desk know that the complainant wished to be contacted when they planned to publish stories about Adam Johnson. In addition, it offered to publish the following clarification on page two in print and online:

On 6 December we published an article headlined "Adam Johnson's ex-girlfriend Stacey Flounders is injured in car crash on way to visit paedophile footballer in jail". We have been asked to clarify that Ms Flounders was in fact on her way to work at the time of the crash, and are happy to do so.

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

10. 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: 11/07/2018