Press Ombudsman upholds complaint against Irish Daily Star
The Press Ombudsman has upheld a complaint by a man that the Irish Daily Star breached Principle 1 (Truth and Accuracy) and Principle 2 (Distinguishing Fact and Comment) of the Code of Practice of the Press Council of Ireland.
The Irish Daily Star published an article about a man convicted of manslaughter resulting from dangerous driving who was now out of prison having served his sentence.
Solicitors representing the man complained to the editor of the Irish Daily Star that a statement in the article that their client had fled hospital when gardai wanted to question him about his driving and that he was now living out of reach of gardai breached Principles 1 and 2 of the Code.
The editor of the Irish Daily Star stood over its publication of the article because, it said, the complainant was wanted for questioning, and it believed that the story was newsworthy and in the public interest.
As the complaint could not be resolved through conciliation it was forwarded to the Press Ombudsman for decision.
The newspaper produced no supportive evidence for the veracity of the statement about which the solicitors complained. The solicitors stated that they had made enquiries with members of An Garda Siochana at the time and were told that their client was not wanted for questioning. It is not possible for the Press Ombudsman to independently assess these contradictory claims. However, it behoves a newspaper to produce some evidence to support the very serious claim that the complainant was wanted for questioning. As the newspaper hasn’t done so I am upholding the complaint under Principles 1 and 2 of the Code of Practice.
The solicitors representing the complainant also claimed that Principle 3 (Fair Procedures and Honesty) had been breached because a comment not posted by their client had been taken from his Facebook page without their client’s consent or authority, and that readers of the article might believe that the comment referred to in the article represented their client’s views. As there was no evidence that the comment was obtained through misrepresentation, subterfuge or harassment, the complaint under Principle 3 is not upheld.
15 February 2017