Decision of the Complaints Committee – 00067-20 Pearson v Daily Express
Summary of Complaint
1. Terry Pearson complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Daily Express breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “BRITAIN’S £26BN BREXIT TOURISM BOOM / Brexit tourism boom will benefit all of Britain”, published on 3 January 2020.
2. The article, which began on the front page and continued on page 4, reported on a forecast by Visit Britain. This forecast predicted that in 2020 every part of Britain would benefit from increased levels of tourism. The article described the findings of the forecast, and listed various tourist sites in the UK. As well as the two headlines which referred to Brexit, the first sentence, on the front page of the newspaper, reported that: “TOURISTS flocking to post-Brexit Britain will fire up the economy by £26.6billion”. The article also included a quote from the director of Visit Britain.
3. The complainant said that the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 because Visit Britain’s report had not mentioned Brexit, nor had the full statement of the director of Visit Britain, some of which was quoted in the article.
4. The publication did not accept that the article was inaccurate. It said that the story, and how it was framed, was discussed with the director of Visit Britain and she had no objections prior to its publication. After the article was published, both the director and Visit Britain had tweeted the article, which the publication said was evidence that they did not find that the article inaccurately reported the result of the forecast. The publication also provided a statement from Visit Britain which stated that the article was factual and that the interpretation of the information, as well as the headline, was a matter of editorial discretion for the newspaper.
Relevant Code Provisions
5. Clause 1 (Accuracy)
i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text.
ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and — where appropriate — an apology published. In cases involving IPSO, due prominence should be as required by the regulator.
iii) A fair opportunity to reply to significant inaccuracies should be given, when reasonably called for.
iv) The Press, while free to editorialise and campaign, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.
Findings of the Committee
6. The Committee noted that whilst the headline of the article had used the term “Brexit tourism boom” there was no suggestion within the text of the article that the tourism boom would be caused by the UK leaving the EU. Instead the article commented on projections for 2020, once the UK had left the EU, and the income that would be generated after Brexit. On this basis, the article was not misleading in the way that the complainant had suggested. In addition, the publication had discussed the article with Visit Britain, the source of the data, prior to the article being published. On this basis, there was no failure to take care not to publish inaccurate information, and no breach of Clause 1.
7. The complaint was not upheld.
Remedial Action Required
Independent Complaints Reviewer
The complainant complained to the Independent Complaints Reviewer about the process followed by IPSO in handling this complaint. The Independent Complaints Reviewer decided that the process was not flawed and did not uphold the request for review.
Date complaint received: 04/01/2020
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 23/04/2020Back to ruling listing