4081/2018 A Man and the Herald
The Press Ombudsman has determined that there is insufficient evidence available to make a decision on a complaint made by a Man that the Herald breached Principle 1 (Truth and Accuracy) of the Code of Practice of the Press Council of Ireland.
The Herald published a report making claims about a man’s behaviour in prison.
The man wrote to the editor of the Herald stating that “the whole article is untrue”. He stated that he had never discussed any movie with inmates. He went on to deny further claims in the article, including a reference to the number of visitors he received, his contact with clubs and organisations, his access to the internet, his use of the prison library and his letter-writing.
The Herald responded to the man’s claims by stating that its “experienced reporter … stands over the veracity of his information and the story as published. Information was gathered from various trusted and confidential sources.”
The man responded to the newspaper’s defence of what it had published by challenging the authenticity of the sources of the reporter.
As the complaint could not be resolved by conciliation it was forwarded to the Press Ombudsman for a decision.
Principle 6 of the Code of Practice states that journalists shall protect confidential sources of information. This requirement is a universally recognized part of journalistic research. The newspaper relied entirely on the authenticity of its sources in its defence of the article. The identities of its sources were not revealed. The newspaper offered no other evidence to support the claims made in the article. The man provided no evidence other than his word that the article contained inaccuracies. Without any supporting evidence from the complainant or the newspaper the Press Ombudsman has insufficient evidence available to him to make a decision on the accuracy or otherwise of the article complained about.
18 December 2018
Note: the complainant has exercised his right under data protection legislation to have the decision reported in an anonymous form.