1665/2023 - A Man and The Echo

By admin
Monday, 19th February 2024
Filed under:

On 21 November 2023 the Press Ombudsman decided not to uphold a complaint made by a man about two articles published in The Echo, in print and online.

The articles are a court report of a trial in which the man was found guilty of assault and criminal damage in the District Court, and a report published two weeks later about the sentence and fine the judge in the case imposed upon him.  The man complained that the newspaper had breached Principle 1 (Truth and Accuracy), Principle 4 (Respect for Rights) and Principle 7 (Court Reporting).  He sought a retraction and an apology.

The man said the articles were “untrue some of it”.  He said the reporter who wrote them had not been in court.  He said a claim had been made about the cost of repairing the damage he was alleged to have caused and that this was “never said in court” and that the publication had “taken the guards side of the story.”  He said the report had included “false and misleading allegations” about him and had been treated in an unprofessional way.

The Echo stood over the reports.  It said that in terms of Principle 1, the reports were a fair and accurate account of court proceedings based on evidence given and documents available to the court.  On Principle 4, it said there was no misrepresentation - the complainant had been found guilty and had received a sentence.  It said it had dealt with respect and expeditiously with the complaint.  On Principle 7 it said the report was a fair and accurate account of court proceedings, and since the man had been found guilty, the question of a presumption of innocence did not arise.


The Press Ombudsman finds the articles to be straightforward and professional accounts of the delivery of judgement in the case, and of the sentencing and imposition of a fine.  Evidence is presented, including evidence from the defendant.  The district judge’s guilty verdict is reported, as are her remarks when passing sentence and imposing the fine.  The defendant’s comments at sentencing are also reported.

On Principle 1, the Press Ombudsman finds that the only specific claim of inaccuracy made by the complainant relates to the estimated cost for the criminal damage (which he denies causing).  However, the evidence provided to the court was accepted. There is no breach of Principle 1.  

On Principle 4, she finds that the allegations made against the defendant by the victim of the assault, who is also the owner of the property damaged, were accepted by the court.   Correspondence received at the Press Ombudsman’s Office shows that the complaint was dealt with expeditiously.  There is no breach of Principle 4. 

On Principle 7, she finds the reports were fair and accurate and written after the defendant was found guilty.  There is no question of prejudice or of undermining the presumption of innocence.  There is no breach of Principle 7.

View the Decision of the Press Council of Ireland