Nationals censured by IPSO over misleading court coverage, regionals cleared over reports of same story

Three national newspapers have been censured by press regulator IPSO over inaccurate reports of a court case.

But two local newspapers which covered the same case were cleared of wrongdoing after they avoided commiting the same error.

Maddison Hawk complained over coverage in the Daily Mail, Metro.co.uk and Mirror.co.uk which were all based on news agency coverage of her court case.

The Daily Mail story was headlined “Woman sold fake hair straighteners to fund £25k plastic surgery” and published on 16 October 2014.

It reported that Hawk had been fined more than £8,000 after trading standards inspectors found she had offered fake appliances for sale, one of which burst into flames after being switched on. It also noted she had spent £25,000 on cosmetic surgery and suggested she had funded the procedures by selling the faulty goods.

Hawk said the appliances were withdrawn from sale before any were sold.

The Mail did not accept the article was significantly inaccurate but offered to publish a correction.

IPSO said in its ruling that the Mail had not provided any evidence to support the main claim of the article and that this was therefore a “significant inaccuracy”. But it said that the Daily Mail’s offered correction was sufficient and should therefore be published.

Metro and the Mirror have also amended their stories and published footnotes.

The Oxford Mail and sister title the Witney Gazette both published reports about the court case which did not mention the cosmetic surgery angle.

Hawk complained about these articles as well because she said “it was inaccurate to say that she had pleaded guilty, she had pleaded guilty on behalf of her company”.

The Oxford Mail provided a copy of the court register, which stated that she had pleaded guilty, as an individual, to failing to comply with the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994.

IPSO rejected these complaints and noted she was sole director of the company.

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