The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) has censured the Ayrshire Post, a Trinity Mirror Group newspaper, following publication of an article titled 'Tied up in a Thai Racket' in May of this year.
In complaint number 04727-15, filed by expat David Hanks, the UK press regulator has ordered that a follow up article and correction be published on the front page of the Ayrshire Post in the next edition.
The details of the offending article were taken from the web site of fugitive journalist Andrew Drummond - a fact which the publication admitted during the IPSO process.
Drummond was twice convicted in Thailand before absconding whilst on bail in the face of a mounting number of criminal prosecutions under Thailand's Computer Crimes Act.
|Andrew Drummond -convicted and on the run.|
Hanks had never been in custody and the co-accused was Alexander Komondorskiy.
Hanks was subsequently acquitted of all charges.
The article also claimed that Hanks was a 'henchman' and had been described in Court as 'mafia', however the publication had not been able to supply any evidence to confirm these allegations - whereas Hanks had provided documents that showed the article was not based on fact - in the complaint, Hanks described the article as a 'complete fabrication'.
Hanks had questioned why the publication had published an article submitted by a journalist who was not present in the Court and therefore could not possibly know if the article was accurate or not.
|David Hanks - article was 'complete fabrication'.|
Lawyers for Trinity Mirror Group had claimed the Ayrshire Post had published the article in 'good faith' based on Drummond's reputation, and his 25 years of experience reporting news in Thailand and had asked IPSO to dismiss the complaint - this defence was rejected by the IPSO complaints committee, which had been provided with copies of outstanding arrest warrants for Drummond.
Hanks had told IPSO that the arrest warrants proved Drummond was not present at the hearing and had simply fabricated the report.
Hanks has announced that he will now take proceedings in the UK against Drummond and the publication and will ask for 'substantial' damages.
In upholding the complaint the IPSO Complaints Committee said:
'The newspaper had not been able to demonstrate that it had taken care over the accuracy of its report with regard to the reference to his being in custody and name of the complainant’s co-defendant. These elements were central claims about the nature and status of the proceedings, and the newspaper could have verified these details. In the absence of any explanation for the publication of the inaccurate information, the Committee established a breach of 1(i)'.
Hanks said yesterday:
'Obviously I am very happy that IPSO has upheld this complaint, and in doing so recognized the Ayrshire Post had not taken sufficient steps to verify the accuracy of the information supplied by Andrew Drummond.
Now that the complaint has been upheld I have instructed lawyers in the UK to commence proceedings against Trinity Mirror Group and Andrew Drummond.
The article was published about a Thai Court hearing, but the submitting journalist had by that time been on the run for at least 5 months, and was not present in Court.
This article was published in a targeted area in a small community, and the IPSO complaint and correction is nowhere near a sufficient remedy, and I will now seek punitive damages in the UK under the Defamation Act 2013 against Drummond and the Trinity Mirror Group.'
The publication has removed the article from it's web site.
Click here for Click here for full text of the IPSO ruling.