The Duke of Sussex’s claim that a Sunday newspaper wrote an inaccurate article about wildlife pictures posted on his Instagram account has been dismissed by a newspaper industry regulator.
Harry complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) that the Mail on Sunday breached the accuracy clause of its Editors’ Code of Practice in an article published in April last year.
Headlined “Drugged and tethered … what Harry didn’t tell you about those awe-inspiring wildlife photos”, the article reported on “spectacular photographs of African wildlife” which had been posted on Harry’s Instagram account to highlight Earth Day.
The article claimed that the “pictures … don’t quite tell the full story” and said the duke had “notably avoided explaining the circumstances in which the images were taken”.
The animals had been tranquillised and the elephant had also been tethered as they were being relocated as part of conservation projects.
The newspaper reported that followers of Harry’s Sussexroyal Instagram account were unable to see a rope around the hind legs of the elephant because of the way the picture was edited.
Ipso said in its ruling that Harry had stated “he had not misled the public by failing to explain the circumstances in which the photograph of the elephant had been taken and that the article was inaccurate in claiming that he had sought to mislead the public by deliberately publishing an edited version of the photograph”.
Harry, who had taken the wildlife pictures posted on Instagram, told Ipso the article gave the misleading impression he had cropped out the tether to create the false impression that he was a superior wildlife photographer.
He said that the image had been cropped owing to the formatting requirements of Instagram.
The newspaper disputed the duke had to crop the image due to Instagram’s formatting requirements.
Ipso said in its ruling the Mail on Sunday had stated: “…the complainant’s preference to have a border around his photos was a presentational choice and not a formatting requirement; to suggest otherwise was disingenuous.”
The duke has a troubled relationship with the press, and last autumn issued a vitriolic statement criticising sections of the media for what he claimed amounted to the bullying of Meghan.
In a separate case, the duchess has launched legal action against the Mail on Sunday after it published parts of a private handwritten letter she sent to her estranged father Thomas Markle.
The Sussexes have begun a new life in Canada after deciding to give up royal duties for financial freedom.
In its conclusion, Ipso found the complaint was not upheld and said its complaints committee considered it was not clear from the images – which also featured a rhino – that the animals had been tranquillised and tethered.
It added: “The photograph of the elephant had been cropped to edit out the animal’s tethered leg; the publication had demonstrated that the photograph could have been edited differently and the complainant accepted that the album could have been uploaded in a different format which would have made editing the photograph unnecessary.”
The caption for the pictures did not make clear they had been previously published unedited in 2016.
Ipso said in its ruling the committee did not think it was “significantly misleading” to report that the photographs “did not quite tell the full story”, and the duke had not explained the circumstances in which the photographs had been taken.