A daily newspaper amended a headline describing a football manager who had sex with a 15-year-old girl as a “vile beast” after he complained about it to the press watchdog.
Grimsby Town manager Michael Jolley, pictured, objected to the Daily Record’s use of the term in an online article about his appointment to the role.
Mr Jolley initially complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, but the matter was resolved when the Glasgow-based Record offered to amend its headline to say ‘Coach who had sex with 15-year-old girl appointed manager of League Two side’ instead of ‘Vile beast who had sex with 15-year-old girl appointed manager of League Two side’.
The Record’s article reported that Mr Jolley, who had met the girl on a night out in Stirling in 2009, had been sentenced to a year on probation and put on the sex offenders’ register, and explained that he has since been cleared to work with young people by the Scottish Government and the English FA.
The report went on to say he had issued a statement saying that he had been “informed by the police that the girl in question had not disclosed her true age”, and that he had “claimed” that the victim and friends had returned to his flat demanding money after the incident.
In his complaint to IPSO under Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, Mr Jolley said that the use of the term “vile beast” in the online headline was misleading, claiming the article was highly selective, because it did not refer to the fact that the court accepted that he would not have slept with the girl had he been informed of her true age – a fact also highlighted by the Scottish Football Association panel which considered the matter.
He said it was also untrue to say that he “claimed” the girls returned to his flat to demand money because this was established fact, adding it was inaccurate to say that the girl had been found “looking distressed” in a bathroom because this had not been heard in court.
The Record responded that it was entitled to characterise individuals based on their actions, but offered to remove the term “vile beast” from the online headline.
It said that omitting certain material from the article did not make it misleading, and noted the article had included a statement from Mr Jolley setting out his position that he had not known the girl’s age at the time of the incident.
Finally, the publication said that, at the time of the trial, the court had heard that “the girl was found in the bathroom by her friend looking in a distressed state” so this was not therefore inaccurate.
The full resolution statement can be read here.