Decision of the Complaints Committee 00223-14 Ritchie v Daily Record
Summary of complaint
1. Mr Derek Ritchie complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Daily Record had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Independence referendum: Yes campaigners protest outside BBC Scotland HQ over political editor Nick Robinson’s ‘biased’ coverage”, published online on 15 September 2014.
2. The complainant considered that the reference to “furious protesters”; the claim that those present had “laid siege to the BBC”; and the assertion that “a police cordon was thrown around the building” had given the inaccurate impression that a protest reported in the article had been aggressive and threatening, and that police had to separate protesters from the BBC building. He had been present at the protest, which had taken place on 14 September 2014, and stated that it had been peaceful. No attempts had been made to enter the building.
3. The newspaper said that there had been anger and frustration in the crowd, directed at the BBC, and cited banners held by protesters with slogans such as “Sack Nick ‘the liar’ Robinson. A totally corrupt journalist. These days typical of the British Biased Corporation”, and chants of “BBC, shame on you”. There had been a significant police presence at the event, and it provided photographs showing a police cordon formed to prevent protesters entering the building. The article had not suggested that the crowd had been aggressive or threatening.
Relevant Code Provisions
4. 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.
Findings of the Committee
5. The complainant had not disputed that the protesters had been angry about the way in which the BBC had chosen to cover the referendum on Scottish independence. Nor did he deny that protesters had displayed the placards referred to in the article. While the complainant did not consider the number of police offers at the protest to represent a “significant presence”, this was a matter of opinion. In the context of an article reporting that a protest had taken place, and including comment from those present, the assertions to which the complainant objected did not render the piece significantly misleading.
6. The complaint was not upheld.
Remedial Action Required
Date of complaint: 17/09/2014
Date decision issued: 15/12/2014Back to ruling listing