· Decision of the Complaints Committee 00048-14 Adams v Metro
Summary of complaint
Summary of complaint
1. Mr Daniel Adams complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Metro had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Appalled at the abuse”, published on 4 September 2014.
2. The article reported comments by the deputy leader of Rotherham Council about the finding of a report which revealed widespread child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.
3. The complainant was concerned that the article had been accompanied by a photograph of a mosque. He said that the use of the image had been a “crude attempt to link Islam and Muslims with the child abuse scandal in Rotherham”. He maintained that there was no connection between the mosque and the crimes committed, and he was concerned by any suggested that the Islamic faith tolerates or allows such crimes to occur.
4. The newspaper said that the photograph chosen to illustrate the story had been a ‘stock’ image of Rotherham, which showed a row of houses with a mosque in the background, of which there were many in Rotherham. The ‘cover-up’ of child sex abuse in which many Asian men were known to be perpetrators, and the misguided fear of the perception of racism which delayed prosecution, was the rationale for using an image which included a mosque.
5. The newspaper provided extracts from the Independent Inquiry Into Child Exploitation in Rotherham (1997-2013), which referenced the heritage of the majority of perpetrators and the police’s fear of allegations of racism.
6. The newspaper strongly denied that the article had implied that sexual exploitation of children is acceptable to Islam; neither had it suggested that the Muslim community had been involved in the offences.
Relevant Code Provisions
7. Clause 1 (Accuracy)
(i)The press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.
(ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and – where appropriate – an apology published.
(iii) The Press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.
(iv) A publication must report fairly and accurately the outcome of an action for defamation to which it has been a party.
Findings of the Committee
8. The Committee did not agree that the use of the image suggested that the wider Muslim community had been involved in child abuse. The newspaper had illustrated an article about Rotherham with an image of Rotherham. The prominence of the mosque in the photograph did have the potential, however, to suggest that the Islamic faith had, in some way, been relevant to story.
9. The report had found that “there was too much reliance by agencies on traditional community leaders such as elected members and imams”; police had feared to act against Asian youths for fear of allegations of racism; and had referenced work by officers in the mosques. The Committee concluded, therefore, that the choice of the image had not been inaccurate or significantly misleading.
10. Although it did not establish a breach of the Code, the Committee did express concern the text of the article had not explained the relevance of the image to the story. It took this opportunity to drawn these concerns to the attention of the editor.
11. The complaint was not upheld
Remedial Action Required
Date of complaint: 09/09/2014
Date decision issued: 02/12/2014
Note: the date for the decision issued above has been amended. Due to an error, it previously said that the decision had been issued on 02/02/2015. In fact it was issued on 02/12/2014.Back to ruling listing