Resolution Statement 01363-19 Haines v Evesham Journal

Decision: Resolved - IPSO mediation

Resolution Statement 01363-19 Haines v Evesham Journal

Summary of complaint

1. Michael Haines complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Evesham Journal breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in a reader’s letter headlined “Not all gloomy”, published on 7 February 2019.

2. The letter was from a person who said that they had voted to leave the EU, but believed that there would be several benefits to remaining in the EU, one of which was that the EU would be introducing National Service, which he said would be good for young people. This action, plus various other obligations he said that the EU would require, would “greatly ease the burden on local councils” as “Brussels will plan it all”. He said that therefore, leaving the EU was “not all doom and gloom”.

3. The complainant said that it was inaccurate to state as fact that the EU would be introducing National Service; he said that there was no evidence to suggest that this was the case. He said that it was not clear whether the letter was satirical, as several of the claims appeared to be accurate or based on plausible situations.

4. The publication said that the letter was clearly satirical and was poking fun at those who voted to remain in the EU. It said that the claims were plainly outlandish and unrealistic, and thus it was inappropriate to treat them as points of fact.

Relevant Code provisions

5. 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.

iv) The Press, while free to editorialise and campaign, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

Mediated outcome

6. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.

7. During IPSO’s investigation, the publication offered to print the following clarification: 

EDITOR’S NOTE: The letter by Stanley Parr from Pershore titled ‘Not all gloomy’ and published in the Journal on February 7 contained a number of false claims about EU plans for all member states. We believed this letter to be written with a sense of irony and assumed our readers would understand that the false claims were made with tongue firmly in cheek, however, following a reader’s complaint about those assertions, we would like to make it clear that they are indeed not true. 

8. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to his satisfaction.

9. 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: 08/02/2019

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 20/02/2019

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