Representative group complaints

We investigate complaints from people who are not the subject of press coverage in different ways.

If a person complains about the accuracy of an article, but they are not the subject of the coverage (what we call a third parry complaint), we take their position into account and decide whether to investigate, based on the appropriateness and feasibility of investigating and ruling on the issue.

For complaints about other (non-accuracy) issues, such as harassment, privacy, or discrimination, we cannot consider complaints from third parties. This is for several reasons, but an important one is that people unconnected with the story do not know how the directly affected person feels about the coverage or about making a complaint. They should be free to make their own decision about how they would like to respond.

However, where there is a significant alleged breach of the Editors’ Code and a public interest, IPSO’s regulations enable us to investigate complaints from representative groups affected by the breach. This is a way of recognising the voices of people who may be affected by coverage that potentially breaches the Code. 

If you complain to us on the basis that you are a representative group, our Complaints Committee looks at a number of criteria when deciding whether to take forward the investigation. To help them reach a decision, we will ask you to explain: 

  • Which group you believe has been affected by the alleged breach of the Editors' Code 

  • How you are representative of that group 

  • How you believe the alleged breach is significant 

  • How you believe the public interest would be served by considering the complaint. 

We do not need the agreement of the subject of the article to investigate through a representative group complaint, although we will take their position into account and may communicate with them about the progress of the investigation or the outcome, depending on the circumstances of the case. 

If the Complaints Committee decides to take a representative group complaint forward, it will proceed as a normal IPSO investigated complaint from that point.