IPSO Blog: The Complaints Process

Take an in-depth look at the IPSO complaints process and why it forms such an important part of our function as regulator

One of IPSO’s key functions as a regulator is to investigate potential breaches of the Editors’ Code through its complaints process, and if the Code has been breached, to provide redress. 

Making a complaint 

The easiest way to make a complaint is via our online complaints form. You will be asked to specify the publication and the clauses of the Code you believe have been breached, along with a brief explanation of your concerns, as well as your contact details. 

Step 1: Initial Assessment 

When IPSO receives your complaint, we will assess whether it is in our remit and whether the issues you have raised constitute a possible breach of the Editors’ Code. 

If we do not think the Code has been broken, or the complaint is not within our remit, we will write to you to explain why we are unable to take your complaint forward. You should expect to hear from us within 15 days. If you do not agree with this decision, you can ask us for a review within seven days and our Complaints Committee will consider your request. 

Step 2: Referral to the publication 

If your complaint raises a possible breach of the Code, and you have not already exhausted the newspaper or magazine’s internal complaints process, we will contact them on your behalf to give you and them the opportunity to resolve the complaint between yourselves directly. This often involves publications finding other solutions tailored to answering your specific concerns. These include, but are not limited to, amending online articles, making private/public apologies, removing articles or pictures from websites, or publishing additional clarifications. This is often a quicker way of resolving complaints, if there is a specific action you want. 

If a resolution to your complaint cannot be reached, IPSO will begin an investigation. 

Step 3: Investigation 

During the investigation, IPSO’s complaints officer will write to the editor of the publication to ask for their response to your complaint. They may ask you some questions to further clarify the nature of your complaint and to make sure that the Complaints Committee has all the information it needs to make a ruling. 

Whilst the investigation is ongoing, the complaints officer may also try to mediate your complaint. 

The length of the investigation stage will depend on the nature and complexity of the individual complaint, but we will give you regular updates as the investigation progresses. 

Step 4: Adjudication by the Complaints Committee 

If your complaint is not resolved, the Complaints Committee will decide whether the Code has been broken. To make sure that the process is fair, the Complaints Committee can only use information which has been seen by both you and the publication to make its decision. 

If your complaint is upheld, the Complaints Committee will also decide on whether a sanction is required and what that should be. This could include requiring the publication to print a correction or the full version of the Committee’s decision. The Complaints Committee decides the wording of the correction or adjudication, its size, and where it must be published. A copy of every decision made by the Committee is also published on our website. 

Step 5: Review 

You can ask for a review of any adjudication by the Complaints Committee within 14 days, if you think that the process that we followed in investigating your complaint was flawed. The reviewer can only review complaints that have been through our investigations process. 

For more information about the complaints process visit our complaints web portal.

 Published 25 January 2022