Due to the high level of interest in the complaint from Doctors' Association UK (DAUK), IPSO is providing a summary of its response along with further information which may be helpful.
Doctors' Association UK complained to IPSO about two articles published in Telegraph.co.uk:
IPSO has considered the complaint carefully and has assessed that it does not raise a possible breach of the Editors’ Code of Practice.
We understand and take seriously concerns about the potential impact of these articles on health services and the morale of general practitioners.
However, the Editors’ Code makes clear that the press has the right to give its own opinion and to publish individuals’ views, as long as it takes care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, and distinguishes between comment, conjecture and fact. These articles were clearly distinguished as comment pieces by their style and tone and have to be considered in that context.
Accuracy concerns under Clause 1 of the Editors' Code
The specific alleged inaccuracies identified by DAUK in the complaint were:
Concerns about specific language
DAUK raised concerns that some language used in the article diminished the importance of Covid guidance and could possibly lead to aggressive behaviour against GPs. IPSO’s role is to consider whether language potentially breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors' Code. The phrasing expressed the opinion of the writer, so did not breach the Code, even if some found it offensive.
GPs and medical bodies not being approached for comment
The Editors’ Code does not require publications to contact people or organisations prior to publication. If an article contains personal or serious allegations or claims against an individual, it may be appropriate to give that individual an opportunity to respond. However, this was not necessary when reporting the journalist’s opinions of GPs in general, and not seeking, or including, comment from individual GPs or medical bodies did not make the articles inaccurate under the terms of the Code. Further information about journalistic approaches is explained here.
More information on IPSO’s work on Covid misinformation
You can find out more about IPSO’s response to Covid-19 here.
IPSO publishes all rulings and resolutions and highlights complaints related to Covid so it is clear what action has been taken and why. We also include considerations about Code is applied to these issues and highlight key points to support journalists and editors to comply with the standards of the Code. More here.
IPSO’s blog also highlights and explains key issues relating to the reporting of Covid.