Resolution Statement 01019-18 Cantemir v MailOnline
Summary of complaint
1. Gabriela Cantemir complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that MailOnline breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined " May draws red line on Brexit migrants: PM vows to fight plans by Brussels that could let a MILLION more EU citizens live in Britain”, published on 1 February 2018.
2. The article reported that the EU had proposed that the ‘cut-off date’ for free movement into the UK from the EU should be extended until the end of the Brexit ‘transition period’, “putting it back by about two years”. It went on to say that “the MigrationWatch think-tank warned the ‘absurd’ move could result in up to a million more EU migrants winning the automatic right to live in the UK”, and to report that Theresa May was opposed to the EU’s proposal. The article included two photographs showing migrants apparently trying to enter the EU. One photograph’s caption included the description “Migrants wait for a train to Serbia on the track near a train station in Demi Kapija, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in 2015”; another stated “Pictured: migrants on the Serbia-Hungary border”. Both captions also made reference to the article’s main story.
3. The complainant said that the photographs were misleading: the story was about EU migrants entering the UK, but the photographs showed non-EU migrants. She was concerned that the publication was trying to influence its readers to have negative views of EU nationals through the inclusion of images relating to the migrant crisis.
4. The publication accepted that the images were not of EU citizens in Britain, but said that there had been no claim to this effect in the article; the pictures’ captions made clear where the images were taken. Where the images showed individuals attempting to cross borders into EU countries, there was a possibility that such individuals might have secured EU citizenship by the end of the transition period, and therefore be able to move into the UK under the extended free movement proposed. In these circumstances, it said that the inclusion of the images was justifiable, and was not misleading. However, it apologised for any unintended offence their inclusion caused, and said that it had not intended to give a negative impression of EU migrants. It explained that it had removed the photographs from the article in response to a similar complaint.
Relevant Code provisions
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.
5. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
6. Following IPSO’s investigation, the publication reassured the complainant that there was no intention to mislead through the publication of the images and that it took the matter seriously. It explained that the issue had also been brought to the attention of the reporter and duty editor responsible for the story.
7. The complainant said that this, in addition to the publication’s prior action to remove the photographs from the article, would resolve the matter to her satisfaction.
8. As the complaint was successfully mediated, the Complaints Committee did not make a determination as to whether there had been any breach of the Code.
Date complaint received: 01/02/2018
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 15/04/2018
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