Jul 19, 2016

Scientology leader's complaint over Mail Online's Tom Cruise story upheld

Website failed to follow rules on accuracy in article on ‘bromance’ between David Miscavige and actor, says UK press watchdog

The Guardian

Mark Sweney

Tuesday 19 July 2016 

A complaint by the leader of the Church of Scientology about a Mail Online article on his “bromance” with actor Tom Cruise has been upheld by the UK press watchdog.

David Miscavige lodged a complaint with the Independent Press Standards Organisation about an article published by Mail Online in December last year.

The article was titled “Exclusive: inside the ‘bromance’ of Tom Cruise and Scientology founder David Miscavige – How they gamble and smoke cigars together and share a special language – but Miscavige secretly recorded the movie star”.

The article reported details of “exclusive interviews” with former members of the Church of Scientology and said that Miscavige has arranged for cameras to secretly film members, including Cruise.

It also reported supposed special treatment received by Cruise at Gold Base, the Church’s headquarters, which was his “home away from home” where he was treated like “Scientology royalty”. 

Miscavige said the Mail Online had relied on sources who were “disaffected former members” with no knowledge of the Church’s operations and that the allegations in the article had already been “disproved or denied”.

Representatives of Miscavige had been approached in advance of publication and had told the Mail Online that several of the allegations were untrue and should not be published.

Mail Online refused to defend its story, saying the events had taken place in the US, and the piece was commissioned, written and edited by journalists working in its American operation.

As a result it was designed to comply with US law and journalistic conventions, not UK ones as regulated by Ipso.

Ipso rejected this and said the Mail Online article had failed to follow UK rules on inaccurate, misleading or distorted information.

“[Mail Online] had not demonstrated the process by which it had regard for the complainant’s previous denials of the allegations,|” said Ipso. 

“Nor had it explained why it had failed to include his representative’s position, explained prior to publication, that the allegations which had been put to him were untrue. It had also failed to provide a defence of the accuracy of the article, or its decision not to publish a correction.”

Ipso ordered Mail Online to publish its adjudication on the case in full on its website with a link on its homepage for 24 hours. 



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