· Decision of the Complaints Committee 00544-15 Walker v Daily Mirror
Summary of complaint
1. Mark Walker complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Daily Mirror had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 2 (Opportunity to reply) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “UKIP candidate shares race hate article on Facebook branding mixed-race couples a ‘plague’”, published on 28 January 2015.
2. The article claimed that the complainant had “used Facebook to circulate a bizarre message claiming the Israeli secret service was behind the Charlie Hebdo atrocity in Paris – and insisting al-Qaeda does not exist.”
3. The complainant said that he had not written this post, he had merely “shared” it. He was concerned that the use of the word “circulate” failed to make this clear, and that he had been portrayed as racist and anti-Semitic as a result. He said that while the newspaper had contacted the UKIP head office for comment prior to publication, it had not contacted him directly.
4. The newspaper provided a link to the relevant post on the complainant’s Facebook page, where it had been accompanied by the comment “so sad but true”. The newspaper noted that the article had not stated that the complainant had written the post himself.
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.
Clause 2 (Opportunity to reply)
A fair opportunity for reply to inaccuracies must be given when reasonably called for.
Findings of the Committee
6. The complainant accepted that he had shared the post online; the article had not stated that he had written it. It was also reasonable to assume from his comment that it was “so sad but true” that he had endorsed the post’s contents. The Committee did not find that the use of the word “circulate” implied that the complainant had written the post. There was no failure to take care over the accuracy of the article, and the Committee did not establish any significant inaccuracies which would require correction under the terms of the Code.
7. Clause 2 requires an opportunity to reply in cases where inaccuracies have been established. In the absence of any inaccuracies, there was no breach of Clause 2.
8. The complaint was not upheld.
Remedial Action Required
Date complaint received: 03/02/2015
Date decision issued: 23/04/2015
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