Malick Kudmany complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Southern Daily Echo breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 2 (Opportunity to reply) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article which reported he was one of two cricketers who received match bans following a “brawl” that broke out between them at a local match.
The story further claimed that the duo “came to blows”, and “the pair set upon each other, trading punches as they rolled around on the wicket” after a dispute over a run.
Mr Kudmany, the captain of his team Old Bournemouthians CC, said that it was inaccurate to describe the incident as a “brawl”, a “punch-up”, or to claim that he had traded punches with the other player.
He admitted that although the incident started after he used offensive language towards the other player, he was then subject to a prolonged assault in which he made no effort to fight back or retaliate.
Mr Ludmany provided an account of the incident from his cricket club secretary, a standing umpire at the match, who claimed the complainant was struck by the other player after he used offensive language towards him, but did not strike back or retaliate, only using his hands to protect his face and glasses.
The complainant said that neither he nor his club were contacted by the newspaper for their version of events.
The Echo said that its journalist spoke to the Hampshire cricket authorities, who had confirmed that the incident took place as well as the penalties imposed, while one of the two eyewitnesses it spoke to noted both players were “trading blows”.
The newspaper also provided a statement from the chairman of Hampshire Cricket League’s (HCL) rules & disciplinary committee, which said that the complainant received a four match ban for racial abuse, and that “as Kudmany was deemed to be defending himself he was not charged with physical assault”.
Mr Kudmany did not dispute that he was banned for racial abuse but said he was no offered a right to reply to the allegations, further explaining that he did not appeal the decision because by the time he received the full findings, he was out of time, it would have been costly, and it carried the risk of a longer ban.
The Echo offered to publish a clarification in its sports pages stating Mr Kudmany did not retaliate when hit.
IPSO found it was not significantly misleading to claim that the complainant had received a ban after a “punch-up”, or that the pair had “traded punches”, given the Echo had demonstrated it had taken steps to ensure the article’s accuracy.
The complaint was not upheld, and the full adjudication can be read here.