Scottish daily newspaper the Press and Journal misquoted the court testimony of a woman who accused a man of assault. The problem is the woman, Mareece Goring, complained to UK press regulator the Independent Press Standards Organisation that she never said the quotes the Press and Journal attributed to her — either in court or in an interview with the newspaper.
According to her IPSO complaint, her comments in court weren’t accurately quoted. For example, in some cases, she answered yes or no to some questions, but the newspaper then took the questions and answers, and spun them into quoted statements attributed to her.
The Press and Journal‘s Jan. 17 story, headlined “Man who said he hugged his lover convicted of assault,” reported that Karl Pattinson had been found guilty of assaulting Goring after a “boozy all-night party.” iMediaEthics has attempted to contact Pattinson via social media for comment.
Goring told iMediaEthics by e-mail she and her husband immediately complained to the Press and Journal when they saw the article but wasn’t satisfied with the response. Goring wrote that she felt the paper “villianised” her despite the fact that she was the victim. “I find it utterly disgusting the way the media sees fit to victim shame and tarnish the reputation of a victim just to sell a more sensationalised story,” she e-mailed iMediaEthics. She called for the media to be held accountable when they run afoul of ethics and argued, “More definitely needs to be done to stop this happening in future, as most people believe wholeheartedly everything written in the newspaper and those written about have to then try to live with the stigma attached to their name.”
The Press and Journal owned up to having inaccurately quoted Goring, but denied having made up the quotes intentionally and argued the quoted information was at least largely accurate.
“The newspaper accepted that best practice was not followed in reporting the question and answer sequence as though the complainant had been quoted directly,” IPSO reported. The Press and Journal argued to IPSO it was just a “human error” not intentionally “making-up of quotes.” That said, the newspaper claimed that despite the quotes being not verbatim, they were correct in summarizing what Goring said.
iMediaEthics has written to the Press and Journal to ask if it has reviewed and fact checked all of the reporter in question’s work to ensure quotes are accurate. Because of the quotation errors, IPSO agreed with Goring that the article was inaccurate and the newspaper needed to publish a correction. iMediaEthics has asked the Press and Journal when the correction will be published.
The Press and Journal must publish a correction in print and online. The full correction reads:
“We have been asked to clarify our reporting of a case at Inverness sheriff court on January 16 in which Karl Pattinson was found guilty of assaulting Mareece Goring. We have been asked by Mrs Goring to clarify that although she was legally married at the time, she and her husband had agreed to a separation before her relationship with Pattinson, so it was incorrect to imply that it was an affair. We are happy to clarify this. Furthermore, in our reporting of cross-examination of Mrs Goring, we mistakenly used words attributed to Mrs Goring in quotes which were, in fact, put to her by defence counsel in the form of questions about her marital status and relationship with Pattinson. In court, Mrs Goring had simply replied in the affirmative or otherwise in answer to those questions. We apologise for any upset caused to Mrs Goring.”
The UK press regulator IPSO regulates approximately 2,500 UK newspapers and magazines, and can investigate and require member publications to publish corrections or rulings. Anyone can complain to IPSO about any member publication possibly breaking IPSO’s Editors’ Code of Practice within four months of an article’s publication. To submit a complaint about any IPSO member, go here to the IPSO website. Other press regulators and councils operate under their own rules.