Press regulator IPSO has received more than 1,500 complaints over a Mail Online story which names and pictures a Grenfell Tower resident whose fridge is reported to have started last week’s devastating London tower block fire.
Some 27,000 people have also signed an online petition urging the Daily Mail and The Sun to “take down all images, mentions of his name and all content linking him to the source of this fire immediately”.
The man has been widely named in other newspapers along with the theory that his fridge started the fire.
The petition says: “Regardless of where the fire began, fire safety experts have made it abundantly clear that a fire safe building would have been able to contain the fire and prevent it spreading. The rapid and unusual spread of the fire begs questions of the institutions responsible for the building, not the residents.”
The Mail Online story is headlined: “The man ‘whose faulty fridge started tower inferno’: Neighbour reveals how Ethiopian taxi driver raised the alarm when deadly blaze started in his fourth-floor kitchen.”
It was pubished at 7.15am on Thursday 15 June, the day after the tragedy.
The Sun story was initially headlined: “First pictures of mini cab driver whose faulty fridge started Grenfell Tower fire”.
The headline was then changed to: “Owner of the Grenfell Tower flat where inferno started tells of agony as death toll is feared to top 100”.
The Sun story was published at 4pm on 15 June. There have been 13 complaints to IPSO about The Sun story.
A Mirror story published at around the same time as The Sun piece, covering similar ground, does not appear to have generated similar attention.
A guide on how to complain about The Sun and Mail Online articles has been circulating on Facebook.
It claims that reports saying the fridge of the man, a 41-year-old taxi driver, started the blaze are:
- Inaccurate (because the fire investigation has not been completed)
- Breach his privacy
- Constitute harassment
- And also amount to intrusion into grief or shock.
A spokesperson for Mail Online said: “In common with several other media outlets Mail Online identified where and how the Grenfell Tower fire started.
“It attached no blame whatsoever to the occupant of that flat and in fact details how he raised the alarm and alerted his neighbours personally.
“For the record Mail Online believes that, while much is still unclear, the blame for this tragedy lies squarely with those responsible for managing and renovating the tower and the authorities in charge of the policies and safety regulations within which they were operating.
“This has been and remains the focus of Mail Online’s extensive coverage from the outset.
“It didn’t seem to us that naming the resident would be seen as blaming him since we did not see how any reasonable person could possibly hold him responsible.”