Resolution Statement – 01516-17 Tennyson v The Belfast Telegraph
1. Eoin Tennyson 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 “Irexit: Republic of Ireland must follow UK’s lead and leave EU”, published on 1 February 2017.
2. The article was a letter which had been submitted to the newspaper by one of its readers. The author of the letter had argued that the Republic of Ireland should follow the UK’s lead and leave the European Union. In support of this, the author had claimed that the Republic of Ireland initially voted against the Maastricht Treaty but were “forced to accept it by the bullies of Europe”. They also said that more than 83% of the Republic’s trade is with the UK and the remainder is shared with the EU and the rest of the world.
3. The complainant said that the Eleventh Amendment to the Irish Constitution which ratified the Maastricht Treaty was approved by 69% of voters in 1992, it was therefore misleading to report that Ireland had been “forced” to accept the Maastricht Treaty. He said that the article omitted a source for the claim that 83% of the Republic’s trade is with the UK.
4. The newspaper said that the views which the complainant objected to, were those of a reader; these views were published in its reader’s letters column and not in an article in the newspaper.
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
6. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
7. Following IPSO’s intervention, the publication offered to provide the complainant with a right of reply, and offered him the opportunity to submit a letter for publication.
8. The complainant said that this resolved 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: 21/02/2017
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 26/04/2017
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