· Decision of the Complaints Committee 01299-14 Luyken v The Scotsman
Summary of complaint
1. Reiner Lukyen complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Scotsman had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 2 (Opportunity to reply) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “German journalist slams ‘Hitler moustache’ Scots”, published on 10 October 2014.
2. The complainant is a German journalist. The article under complaint reported comments made by the complainant about his experiences of living in the Highlands.
3. The complainant denied that he had stated that racism was “a lot worse” in Scotland than in other European countries.
4. The complainant expressed concern that the journalist had tried to bypass proper procedures for ascertaining facts, stating that she had sent him translations of comments made by him in the German newspaper Die Zeit for his approval, but had not sent any other quotes to him for checking.
5. The newspaper said that the articles were based on agency copy. It had obtained the agency reporter’s notes, which clearly included the comment under dispute.
Relevant Code Provisions
6. 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.
7. Clause 2 (Opportunity to reply)
A fair opportunity to reply to inaccuracies must be given when reasonably called for.
Findings of the Committee
8. The comment under dispute was clearly present in the notes from the agency reporter who had provided the copy. This demonstrated that care had been taken to ensure the accuracy of published information. Accordingly, there was no breach of Clause 1 (i).
9. The Committee was satisfied that the newspaper was entitled to rely on the reporter’s notes provided by the agency. While the complainant maintained that he had not made the comment under dispute, the Committee did not establish that the article had contained a significant inaccuracy which merited correction under the terms of Clause 1 (ii).
10. The reporter had asked the complainant to check a translation of comments which he had made in a German newspaper, to make sure that these had not been misunderstood. There was no obligation to also repeat to him all comments which he had made during his interview, which was carried out in English.
11. The Committee noted that the article had been based on comments made by the complainant. While he considered that he should have been given the opportunity to approve his quotes prior to publication, this did not constitute a denial of an opportunity to respond in breach of Clause 2 (Opportunity to reply).
12. The complaint was not upheld.
Remedial Action Required
Date complaint received: 13/10/2014Date decision issued: 15/12/2014 Back to ruling listing