Manchester United claim The Sun knew about attack on Ed Woodward's home
Manchester United have lodged an official complaint against The Sun alleging that the newspaper knew in advance about an attack on the home of club executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.
Anger among some of the Old Trafford faithful over the club's performance in the Premier League this season spilled over last month when a group of hooded figures were filmed targeting Mr Woodward's house in Cheshire.
United condemned the "unwarranted attack", which saw red flares thrown over the gates of the property, and have now complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) over The Sun's coverage of the incident.
In a statement, United said it believed the tabloid "had received advance notice of the intended attack, which included criminal damage and intent to intimidate".
The club said a journalist was present at the time, and that the "quality of the images" featured in The Sun's report suggested that a photographer was also in attendance.
Other media outlets including Sky News reported on the incident using stills from social media footage filmed as the attack took place, which was captioned: "Ed Woodward's gonna die."
United said the journalist who was at the scene had failed to "discharge the basic duty of a responsible member of society to report an impending crime and avert potential danger and criminal damage".
The club said his presence "both encouraged and rewarded the perpetrators", adding: "We believe that this was a clear breach of both the IPSO editors' code and journalistic ethics."
IPSO is an independent regulator of the print industry in the UK, similar to how Ofcom regulates TV and radio.
The Sun has denied that it had prior knowledge about the manner of the protests and said it was "happy to cooperate fully with any police inquiry".
Cheshire Police is still investigating the ugly scenes, having confirmed that they were notified about an incident of criminal damage at around 10.45pm on 28 January.
Neither Mr Woodward, his wife or their two young children were present at the property during the attack.
"The Sun condemns fully the attack on Mr Woodward's home and is happy to cooperate fully with any police inquiry," said a spokesman for the newspaper.
"However The Sun, like all newspapers, vigorously defends its right to report. Following a tip-off that there was to be a protest a Sun reporter attended.
"The Sun accurately reported the events that unfolded. At no time was our reporter made aware of what was to take place nor incited it or encouraged any criminal activity.
"The article made it clear that the behaviour was criminal and unacceptable.
"The Sun supports wholeheartedly the Editors' Code Of Conduct and will defend the complaint to IPSO."
Mr Woodward and United's American owners, the Glazer family, have been the subject of increasingly hostile fan protests throughout the season.
During United's 6-0 FA Cup win over Tranmere just days before his home was attacked, some supporters were heard chanting about killing the executive vice-chairman.
While Mr Woodward has overseen impressive growth in United's commercial operation during his time at the club, performances on the pitch have declined over recent years.
Since taking his job in 2013, Mr Woodward has appointed four different managers and has been under pressure throughout this season to replace current head coach Ole Gunnar Solksjaer with a more experienced candidate.