Press regulator IPSO is reviewing its rules after Mail Online declined to defend an article about Tom Cruise written by journalists working on its US edition.
David Miscavige said the story headlined “Exclusive: inside the ‘bromance’ of Tom Cruise and Scientology founder David Miscavige: How they gamble and smoke cigars together and share a special language – but Miscavige secretly recorded the movie star”, published on 2 December 2015, was inaccurate.
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He denied that a field had been “laser levelled out” to impress Cruise’s friend and that a field had been sown with wild flowers for Cruise.
He also denied he and Cruise had returned from a Las Vegas gambling trip with “bundles of cash”.
Mail Online declined to defend the story because, it said, most of the individuals mentioned in the article were American, the events had taken place in America and the piece was commissioned, written and edited by journalists working for its US edition.
It said the story complied with US law and conventions and was outside IPSO’s remit.
In the absence of any supporting evidence from Mail Online, IPSO upheld the complaint.
It said: “While it had published accounts provided by former members of the Church of Scientology, and attributed them accordingly, it had not demonstrated the process by which it had regard for the complainant’s previous denials of the allegations, and nor had it explained why it had failed to include his representative’s position, explained prior to publication, that the allegations which had been put to him were untrue.
“As such, the committee was unable to conclude that the steps taken prior to publication showed that Mail Online had taken care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information.”
IPSO ordered Mail Online to publish a critical adjudication on its home page for 24 hours.
The adjudication appears near the bottom of Mail Online’s extensive home-page next to a report noting that IPSO is reviewing its policy.
The Mail Online report states: “IPSO’s initiative recognises that it needs to adapt its rules if more global media players are to become members.
It also says that the principle that articles written abroad for a foreign audience should not be subject to IPSO had been a principle of it signing up to the regulator.
IPSO has begun a consultation on whether it should continue to adjudicate on stories published by international editions of UK publications for a foreign audience.