The Mail Online reported on a woman’s claims that she was duped into dating a man who was bankrupt after meeting him on a “no strings attached” affair website.
But the man says he isn’t bankrupt and the Mail never contacted the man before publication, only presenting the woman’s side of the story. As such, the story was inaccurate, the UK press regulator, the Independent Press Standards Organisation, ruled.
The man, who wasn’t identified by his full name in either the Mail’s December 2017 story or the IPSO ruling, had complained to IPSO over the errors and alleging an invasion of privacy.
Because the Mail reported in its headline and story that he man was bankrupt, and the man pointed out that he wasn’t — “his bankruptcy had expired several years previously,” IPSO reported, the article was inaccurate. The Mail said the reporter did not contact the man before publication since he had not been fully identified in the story.
IPSO rejected the invasion of privacy claim because the relationship “had been conducted in public,” although “the article reported the man’s first name, age, job, home town and number of children, and described the course of their relationship,” according to IPSO. The article also featured pixelated photos of the man and woman together. The Mail defended its story as in the public interest, and argued it didn’t publish any private details.
Despite defending its story, in response to the complaint, the Mail said it would unpublish the article, apologize privately and post a clarification on its website regarding the story.
“Nonetheless, it offered to remove the article and perform a flush to remove links to the article online. It also offered to send the complainant a private letter of apology and to publish a standalone clarification on its News homepage,” IPSO reported.
But, because IPSO didn’t require it to unpublish the story, the Mail eventually left the article online and just amended the error in calling the man bankrupt. The article is still published.
That clarification, published March 20, reads:
“An article dated 8 December and entitled “Mother who fell for a ‘£25K-a-month’ IT consultant she met online reveals how her life was ‘ruined’ when she learned he was actually BANKRUPT – as she warns against ‘no strings’ dating sites” stated that the IT consultant was subject to a current bankruptcy order when, in fact, the order was made in 2012 and discharged the following year. We apologise for the error.”