A complaint by Clare senior hurling manager, Brian Lohan against an article by The Irish Independent has been upheld by the Press Council of Ireland and the Press Ombudsman.
Lohan lodged a complaint following an article published in April by Vincent Hogan which led with the headline, ‘In Clare, we seem to be great at beating up ourselves’ – Inside the Centre of Banner row’ which detailed a training ground row between a member of the the Clare backroom team and personnel associated with the County Board.
Anonymity was originally requested by the Clare manager in the drafting of the Press Ombudsman’s decision. On completion of the complaints process, including consideration of an appeal by the editor, the complainant consented to his name being associated with the decision.
On July 6th, the Press Ombudsman upheld a complaint that the Irish Independent breached Principle 1 (Truth and Accuracy) of the Code of Practice of the Press Council of Ireland. The article referenced the Shannon man on several occasions with the Ombudsman man noting “many of the references to the complainant were critical in tone”.
Solicitors for the two-time All-Ireland winner contacted The Irish Independent to point out what they called several inaccuracies in the report which they said were not checked with their client prior to publication. The complainant sought a published apology and an agreed clarification. An interview with the complainant was offered but solicitors representing the complainant responded by saying their client did not wish to have a “piece written about himself”. The editor responded to this by offering to publish a letter from the complainant as an alternative, in which he could highlight his issues with the article. This offer was not accepted by the complainant and a formal complaint was made to the Office of the Press Ombudsman, no clear-cut example of a factual inaccuracy requiring correction was identified, the editor flagged.
The decision by the Press Ombudsman was appealed by the editor of the Irish Independent to the Press Council of Ireland on the grounds that there had been an error in the application of the Code of Practice by the Press Ombudsman.
At a meeting on Friday September 3rd, the Press Council rejected the appeal and decided that the Press Ombudsman had not erred in his application of the Code. The Council deemed that the article was a news article, and given the very specific context and content of the information that was published therein, it decided that the newspaper, in these particular circumstances, should have contacted the complainant prior to publication to give him an opportunity to comment.