Decision of the Complaints Committee 00363-15 Graham v Belfast Telegraph
Summary of complaint
1. John Graham complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Belfast Telegraph had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined, “Why it’s time to man up about the problem of depression”, published on 1 December 2014.
2. The article was an analysis of the specific problems facing men who were affected by depression. It included advice for those affected, and stated that individuals could contact mental health charity Mind for “advice and support”.
3. The complainant said that Mind only operated in England and Wales and would therefore be unable to offer advice to individuals in Northern Ireland.
4. The newspaper said that the article had been based on copy provided by an agency which operated across the United Kingdom, and had been published in good faith. On receipt of the complaint, the reporter had contacted Mind to clarify the matter. Mind had indicated that it was able to offer “information and help” to people within Northern Ireland. The newspaper had subsequently accepted that this help would take the form of a referral to the relevant local services, as Mind itself did not operate within Northern Ireland. In light of this, it offered to publish the following clarification on the matter:
An article about depression among men (‘Why it’s time to man up about the problem of depression’, Life December 1, 2014) should have included local helpline numbers for people affected by the issues involved. They are: Samaritans 08457 909090 and Lifeline 0808 808 8000.
Relevant Code Provisions
5. 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
6. The newspaper had obtained the copy from an agency, and published it in good faith. There had been no failure to take care not to publish inaccurate or misleading information in breach of Clause 1 (i). Whilst it was accepted that Mind does not operate a helpline service within Northern Ireland, it was not in dispute that the charity would offer information and help to callers from outside of England and Wales, in advising them of the telephone numbers of relevant local organisations. As such, the article’s reference to the charity as a source of advice and support was not significantly misleading such that a correction was required in line with the terms of Clause 1 (ii). There was no breach of Clause 1. Nonetheless, the newspaper’s offer of clarification was welcome.
7. The complaint was not upheld.
Remedial Action Required
Date complaint received: 20/01/2015
Date decision issued: 15/04/2015Back to ruling listing