Decision of the Complaints Committee 00141-17 Raftery v The Sentinel
Summary of Complaint
1. Kevin Raftery complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Sentinel breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Residents given 12 weeks to find alternative accommodation as Alsager care home to close”, published online on 3 December 2016.
2. The article reported on the closure of Alsager Court care home. It said that, following the announcement of its closure, residents had been given a notice period of “just 12 weeks” to find alternative accommodation.
3. The complainant, whose mother had been a resident at Alsager Court when its closure had been announced, said that the reported notice period was inaccurate. He provided a letter, dated 28 November 2016, which he had received from the care home, informing him that the letter constituted one month’s notice of termination of his mother’s Resident Contract.
4. The newspaper did not accept a breach of the Code. It provided a letter, dated 28 November 2016, which it said had been sent to another resident at Alsager court, informing them that the letter constituted 12 weeks notice of termination of their Resident Contract. It said that this information was then reported in the article, in the belief that the letter was a standardised document sent to all residents.
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.
Findings of the Complaints Committee
6. The Committee expressed sympathy for the complainant’s loss.
7. The Committee noted that the notice period contained in the letter provided by the newspaper, was not the same as the notice period contained in the letter sent to the complainant. However given that the letter provided by the newspaper stated that a notice period of 12 weeks was given, the newspaper had demonstrated that it had taken care over the accuracy of the article. Furthermore in the context of an article which reported on the financial issues which had led to the care home’s closure and the concern over the impact that this would have on residents’ health, any inaccuracy relating to the precise notice period given to the residents, was not significant, such that a correction was required. There was no breach of the Code.
8. The complaint was not upheld.
Remedial Action Required
Date complaint received: 08/01/2017
Date decision issued: 02/03/2017
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