1366/2022 - Mr Adrian Doyle and the Wexford People
Mr Doyle appealed the decision to the Press Council of Ireland on the grounds that (1) the procedures followed in making the decision were not in accordance with the published procedures for submitting and considering complaints and (2) there was an error in the Press Ombudsman’s application of the Principles of the Code of Practice.
Mr Doyle complained that an article published by the Wexford People on 27 July 2022 reporting on a High Court case about disputed property transactions, which included two photographs of him, breached Principles 1 (Truth and Accuracy), Principle 2.2 (Distinguishing Fact and Comment), Principle 3 (Fair Procedures and Honesty) , Principle 4 (Respect for Rights) and Principle 5 (Privacy) of the Code of Practice.
PRESS OMBUDSMAN’S DECISION
The Press Ombudsman decided not to uphold the complaint.
The Press Council considered the appeal at its meeting on Wednesday, 1 March 2023.
1. Mr Doyle argued that the procedures followed by the Press Ombudsman in making her decision were not in accordance with the published procedures for submitting and considering complaints. The Press Council rejected Mr Doyle’s appeal on this ground as it found that Mr Doyle presented no evidence to support it.
2. Mr Doyle argued that the Press Ombudsman had erred in her application of Principle 1 of the Code of Practice because the article did not reflect what was contained in the court judgment and that that, together with the publication of his photograph, was neither accurate nor fair. The Press Council rejected this part of the appeal because it agreed with the Press Ombudsman’s decision, which it said was fully-reasoned. It agreed that the article was fair and accurate, as is expected of a newspaper in its reporting of court proceeding.
Mr Doyle argued that the Press Ombudsman had erred in her application of Principle 3 of the Code of Practice because the article was not fair, honest or accurate. The Council rejected this part of the appeal. As set out in its decision regarding Principle 1, it found that the article was fair and accurate. It also observed that, contrary to Mr Doyle’s argument that Principle 3 should be interpreted as relating to the fairness and honesty of the article, it is in fact concerned with how the press procures information, photographs and other material on which its reports are based. The Council noted that the correct title of Principle 3 is “Fair Procedures and Honesty”, and that it was correctly cited in the Ombudsman’s decision.
Mr Doyle argued that the Press Ombudsman had erred in her application of Principle 7 of the Code of Practice because the front page of the newspaper report did not reflect accurately what the judge had said in court. The Press Council rejected this part of the appeal because it found that both the front page and the report inside the newspaper fairly and accurately reported the court proceedings.
Finally, Mr Doyle made reference in his appeal to the Preamble to the Code of Practice, which states that it is the duty of the Press Ombudsman and Press Council to ensure that the Code is honoured in the spirit as well as in the letter. The Press Council was satisfied that the Press Ombudsman had fulfilled this duty.