IPSO regulates most UK newspapers and magazines (but currently not the Guardian, Independent or Financial Times) If the publication you want to complain about is not a member of IPSO you can contact them directly.
Anyone can complain about a significant inaccuracy which has been published on a general point of fact. Where an inaccuracy relates to a specific individual or organisation, IPSO may be able to take forward a complaint from a third party, but will need to consider the position of the party directly affected including:
Where the complaint relates to another issue or the inaccuracy is not on a general point of fact, IPSO can take forward a complaint from anyone directly affected by the article or journalistic conduct (or an authorised representative). We can also take forward complaints from representative groups, where the alleged breach of the Code is significant and there is a public interest in doing so. If you are complaining on behalf of a representative group IPSO will ask you to explain:
View IPSO's complaints process and procedures to find out how your complaint will be dealt with and potential outcomes.
Typical examples include:
IPSO’s Complaints Officers will advise you on ways of resolving your complaint.
IPSO can issue a critical adjudication against a newspaper or magazine. This is a very strong deterrent which effectively acts as a powerful ‘name and shame' sanction as editors do not like having to publicise their mistakes to their staff, readers and competitors. The publication will then have to publish this text in full on its own pages, with a headline reference to IPSO , and with ‘due prominence'.
The Editors' Code expects corrections and adjudications to be published somewhere proportionate to the original article. When IPSO orders a correction or an adjudication, the Complaints Committee decides where it should appear.
This is a common-sense approach does not necessarily mean that something has to be published on the same page as the original article, as there will be a number of factors to consider in each case including: the gravity of the error, the speed with which it has been addressed by the publication, the proportion of the original story, and whether the newspaper has a designated corrections column.
Yes. IPSO’s services are totally free and require no legal representation or specialist knowledge of the media. Although people in the public eye can and do complain to us too, the vast majority of complainants are ordinary members of the public.
No. If you would like help in making a complaint we will be happy to assist wherever possible.
Making a complaint to IPSO is free.
IPSO has no formal powers to negotiate compensation on behalf of complainants. If you are seeking money, you will need to take legal advice.
Each case is different so it will depend on how complex the issues are. The average time is around 35 working days, but many complaints are resolved much more quickly than that.
IPSO’s Complaints Committee will not generally accept complaints more than four months after the date of publication of the article (or incident that has given rise to the complaint). It may be able to consider a complaint about material which remains published on a publication’s website, up to twelve months after the date of first publication.
Unfortunately we are not yet able to accept complaints made in other languages. You may wish to ask a friend or other representative to make the complaint in English on your behalf, which we can accept with your signed authorisation.
You must make your complaint in writing but can do so either by post or using our online form. Please make sure you have included a link to the article or have attached a scanned copy of it in both cases.
IPSO staff are always happy to offer advice and can help to explain any area of the Editors' Code and can discuss how best your complaint might be framed.
If IPSO decides the issue requires investigation, we may choose a lead representative complaint, or choose to draft a summary of the complaints received to ensure that we are able to handle the issue proportionately and within a reasonable timescale. All complainants will be notified that the complaint will be handled in this way and will receive an update at the conclusion of the process.
As part of IPSO's complaints process, names will be passed to publications so they can deal with your complaint, but both parties are expected to respect IPSO's confidentiality rules.
Each decision made by the Complaints Committee is published as soon as reasonably possible following the conclusion of the complaint. If you have any concerns about this, you will be given an opportunity to raise them before the Complaints Committee is asked to consider the complaint. Unless there are special circumstances (such as a court order), we will publish the decision on your complaint if you have not raised concerns about its publication before the decision is issued.
The Complaints Committee considers requests made by complainants that material should not be included in its published decisions on a case-by-case basis, but starts from the standpoint that decisions should generally be published in full, except in cases involving intrusion into privacy or where IPSO is satisfied that the complainant has a legal right to be anonymous. In considering requests the Committee may take into account:
The Committee will only agree to anonymise a decision having first considered whether there are other means by which a complainant’s legitimate concerns could be addressed. It may refuse to grant anonymity but agree to omit specific information from a published decision.
To avoid prejudging a complaint, the Committee will generally be grant anonymity where it appears that there is a significant overlap between the reasons for the anonymity request and the grounds for the complaint.If the Complaints Committee declines your request to be anonymous (or that specific information should not be published about you), you will have the opportunity to withdraw your complaint before the Committee rules. The Complaints Committee will not generally consider requests for anonymity made after a decision has been issued.
If you face difficulties in pursuing a complaint or otherwise making use of IPSO’s services because of a disability, we will make reasonable adjustments to our ordinary procedures in order to accommodate your needs.
If this applies to you, please let us know through any means of communication that is convenient to you, explaining the nature of your disability and any accommodation by us that you are seeking. We will ordinarily require you to provide some evidence in support of the request to allow us to undertake a proper assessment as to how your needs may appropriately be accommodated.
In considering the nature of the adjustments to be offered, we must have regard for the need to ensure that the complaints process is transparent, effective and fair to both parties. Generally speaking, this requires a written record (in some form) of the nature of the complaint, the response by the publication and the process that has been followed.
If you are informed by IPSO staff at the start of your complaint that it will not be considered further because it falls outside our remit or does not raise a possible breach of the Editors’ Code and believe that this decision is incorrect, you are entitled to request a review of the decision by the Complaints Committee within 7 days.
If your complaint has been the subject of a decision by the Complaints Committee following investigation and you believe that the procedure by which the Committee considered the complaint was flawed, you may request a review by the Complaints Reviewer. Any request for a review must be made in writing within 14 days of the date the Complaints Committee issues its decision. IPSO will then decide whether to refer the complaint to the Complaints Reviewer. If the referral is made, the Reviewer will review the process by which the decision was made, and inform the Complaints Committee within 14 days whether it considers that the process was substantially flawed. If the Reviewer does not consider that the process was substantially flawed, the decision will then be issued. If the Reviewer does consider that the process was substantially flawed, the decision will be reviewed by the Complaints Committee, taking into account the Complaints Reviewer’s findings. The Committee will then issue its final findings.
We will need to contact you in writing, and will write to you using the email address you have provided, or a postal address if you do not use email. Any contact information you provide will be included on your complaints form. A copy of this form may be sent to the publication when we have completed our assessment of your complaint. If your complaint is taken forward, the publication will need to contact you in writing. If there are contact details which you would like to provide to IPSO, but would not like to be passed to the publication, please note this when filling in the form.
IPSO's independent complaints reviewer is Trish Haines. Find out more about her and her role here.
Publications vary widely in their attitude to apologies; some apologise regularly for even relatively minor errors, while others prefer to reserve them for the most serious cases. The question for the Committee is not whether they would choose to apologise in a particular case. The question is, is the failure to apologise a breach of the Code, such that a serious regulatory sanction should be imposed.
It is for IPSO's Complaints Committee to decide, on a case by case basis, whether an apology is appropriate under Clause 1ii. Some of the factors they will consider when doing so are: