In recent months there has been significant debate and discussion about the terms of Clause 12 (Discrimination) of the Editors’ Code of Practice and how IPSO applies the Code to the complaints it receives. IPSO believes that more transparency about Clause 12 and how it applies to individual complaints will help to inform this discussion. In order to provide greater transparency, IPSO will now publish information on a quarterly basis about instances in which it has received more than ten complaints under Clause 12 about the same issue.
Clause 12 of the Editors’ Code of Practice deals with discrimination. It says that the press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual's race, colour, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability. It also states that these details should not be included in a story unless they are genuinely relevant.
Clause 12 prevents publications from making discriminatory references to individuals based on the ‘protected characteristics’ listed above. It also prevents them from making reference to any individual’s protected characteristics unless they are genuinely relevant to a story.
In general, Clause 12 complaints can only be taken forward from the party directly affected – because the complaint might involve personal and sensitive information about a person, or we might not be able to investigate the complaint properly without their input. In certain cases, where there is a sufficient public interest, IPSO is also able to take complaints from representative groups affected by the alleged breach.
The information below gives a brief summary of the types of complaints received and the outcome. These statistics do not include any cases still under investigation or cases relating to any non-regulated publications; or cases where IPSO received fewer than 10 complaints. IPSO has not included those complaints in order to protect the confidentiality of complainants, who might otherwise be identifiable. In addition, cases where IPSO received more than ten complaints tend to raise broader issues around editorial standards.