A convicted drug dealer’s mother went to the press watchdog over a Sunday newspaper’s report of her son’s alleged attempt to escape from prison.
The Glasgow-based Sunday Mail reported Shaun Ballard, left, had unsuccessfully attempted to escape from his jail cell by sawing through the bars on his window with a smuggled hacksaw, being foiled after getting into a fight with his cellmate.
A follow-up piece the week after reported both men had been charged in relation to the incident.
But Ballard’s mum Heather took issue with the Mail’s stories, claiming he had not been involved in any attempt to break out of his prison cell and that it was inaccurate to report that he had been charged for such an offence.
Complaining to the Independent Press Standards Organisation under Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, she also said her son was not a “drug dealer”, as the articles had claimed, because his current sentence of four and a half months related to a conviction for dangerous driving.
She further claimed that her son had not been jailed for 20 months or transferred to HMP Saughton, adding the Mail’s unnamed “source” had inaccurately claimed that the escape bid would have been “a long time in the planning”.
The Mail responded that it had obtained its information from confidential and trusted sources whose identities it was obliged to protect, adding it had requested a statement from Police Scotland in response to the allegation that Ballard had been involved in a disturbance, and escape attempt, in his cell.
Police Scotland had responded to the request with confirmation it had launched an investigation after attending an incident at the prison, and also responded a further request made by the Mail prior to the follow-up article by giving a statement which referred to the Ballard’s name and age.
While the Mail acknowledged that the complainant’s son’s was currently serving a sentence in relation to his conviction for dangerous driving, it said that he had been previously convicted as a “sub dealer” as part of a nationwide drug ring and had been sentenced to 20 months imprisonment.
The newspaper said that the claim that the escape had been “a long time in the planning” had been clearly presented in the article as the source’s opinion and had reflected their belief that the escape had not been spontaneous.
The complaint was not upheld, and the full adjudication can be read here.