Decision of the Complaints Committee 02473-15 Dorries v Bedfordshire on Sunday
Summary of complaint
1. Nadine Dorries complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Bedfordshire on Sunday had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Nadine Dorries says she ‘won’t attend hustings’ if rival candidate is there”, published online on 3 April 2015 and in print on 5 April 2015.
2. The article reported that the complainant would not be attending a hustings prior to a general election if a rival Independent candidate was present. It stated that the complainant had previously complained to the police about this candidate, but that the CPS had not taken any action on the matter. The article included comments from the candidate, explaining why he was standing for election and stating that he had “for over a decade campaigned in support of victims of injustice and corruption”.
3. The complainant said that it was inaccurate to state that “no further action” had been taken in relation to the other candidate’s behaviour towards her and that the police had previously issued him with a warning. She also said that it was inaccurate to describe him as a “marketing consultant and writer”, when in fact he worked in a sandwich shop. She said that he was not from the village Harlington as reported, but was from Australia, and while he may spend time in the village, he did not own or lease any property within the area. Furthermore, the complainant considered it inaccurate to state that the other candidate “campaigned for victims of injustice”.
4. The newspaper defended the accuracy of its coverage. The information about the other candidate had been provided by him in writing as part of research that the newspaper had conducted for another article, introducing all local parliamentary candidates. The candidate was entitled to define his own occupation, and where he considered himself to be from. Furthermore, he was named as on “online marketing consultant” in material published by polling organisation YouGov, and his campaign material listed his address as in Harlington. The newspaper noted that the complainant had not provided sufficient grounds to support her contention that the other candidate had not campaigned for victims of injustice. In relation to the complaints by the complainant to the police about his conduct, the newspaper had been provided with an official statement by the CPS, making clear that no further action had been taken.
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.
Findings of the Committee
6. In a report of a hustings, the newspaper was entitled to publish biographical material provided by a candidate in support of their candidacy. This did not raise a breach of Clause 1.
7. The complainant had not disputed that the CPS had taken no further action in relation to her complaints against the other candidate. The newspaper had obtained statements from the police and CPS on this point, and was entitled to report the position of the authorities. This was not inaccurate or misleading.
8. The complaint was not upheld.
Remedial Action Required
Date complaint received: 08/04/15
Date decision issued: 18/05/2015Back to ruling listing