A story claiming Rangers FC fans blocked police from getting into the stadium to break up a pitch battle, which relied on a single unconfirmed police source, has been ruled inaccurate.
A complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) over the accuracy of the Daily Record report has been upheld and the paper forced to run a 581-word adjudiction as a result.
The article reported that officers outside Hampden Park in Glasgow – Scotland’s national football stadium – were prevented from breaking up disorder between Glasgow Rangers and Hibernian FC fans by Rangers supporters, following the Scottish Cup final on 21 May.
It first appeared online on 25 May with the headline: “Cops: Mob rule outside Hampden blocked us from getting in to help,” and was published in print the next day with the headline: “Cops claim mob rule outside Hampden stopped them getting in to deal with battling Rangers and Hibs fans”.
The story quoted an unnamed policeman who had emailed the newsdesk saying he was part of a group of 75 officers who were on public order duty on the day of the match.
The officer said supporters “started hitting and spitting at the [police] vans, trying to rock the vans, kicking the vans, trying the doors”.
He added: “This isn’t a few bad eggs in the crowd, this was everyone walking past us”, and said a “mob mentality” prevailed outside the stadium with parents using their children to block roads.
The story stated that the officer was “addressing criticism of the police reaction to the Hibs fans’ pitch invasion”.
The newspaper said it had been unable to verify whether the person who sent the email was a police officer, but that the allegations were set out as claims, not facts, and it had taken sufficient care over the article.
It said that the account was checked with two further police sources, neither of whom was present at the incident. One said that there had been “chat” amongst officers about the incident, while the other gave an account which tallied with the information in the email.
The paper said it also contacted the General Secretary of the Scottish Police Federation, who said that some of the accounts he had heard accorded with the account provided in the email.
However, a man who claimed he was outside the stadium as police vans attempted to make their way through Rangers supporters said the paper’s report was inaccurate under Clause 1 of the Editor’s Code of Practice.
He said police did not activate their sirens and made no attempt to drive around cars that were stuck due to the number of people on the road.
He said while there was sarcastic applause from the majority of fans and some “mild verbal abuse” directed at the police due to their late arrival, there were no confrontations.
He added it was nonsense to suggest that parents were using their children to block the road and denied that anybody hit or spat at police vans, saying it was inaccurate to report that “everybody walking past” had taken part in what the article said had taken place.
The complainant said the article had not provided any photographic or video evidence of the “attacks”, and that it was totally fabricated, according to the press regulator.
The Daily Record did offer to run a clarification, however IPSO deemed this insufficient.
Its Complaints Committee said: “Given the seriousness of the allegations about the Rangers supporters, the newspaper’s failure to demonstrate that care had been taken over the accuracy of the article, and that the action offered by the newspaper were insufficient to meet the requirements of Clause 1 (ii), the appropriate remedial action was the publication of an upheld adjudication.”
It said the headline of the adjudication must make clear that IPSO has upheld the complaint, and refer to its subject matter; it must be agreed in advance.
The original article had appeared on page six and seven, and the adjudication should appear on page six or further forward, said IPSO, who added it should also be published on the newspaper’s website, with a link to the full adjudication appearing on the homepage for 24 hours before being archived.