Resolution Statement – 02697-21 Roberts v Telegraph.co.uk
Summary of Complaint
1. Owen Roberts complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Telegraph.co.uk breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Travel news latest: Wales to ban English tourists until at least the summer”, published on 12th March 2021.
2. The online article, a live travel blog, reported on the reopening of self-contained accommodation in Wales following the comments made by First Minister Mark Drakeford on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. The article stated that when accommodation reopened at Easter, “English holidaymakers” would not be able to visit Wales.
3. The complainant said that the article was misleading in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy), as its headline gave the impression that the Welsh Government and its First Minister, Mark Drakeford, had “banned” English holidaymakers from visiting Wales when it was, in fact, the result of a UK Government’s own restriction which did not permit unnecessary travel outside of England.
4. The publication did not accept a breach of the Code. It maintained that the text of the article supported and clarified the headline. It said that the headline was based upon the comments made by the First Minister on the Today programme and to the Press Association, with the First Minister explaining to the latter that self-contained accommodation providers “should not be taking booking from people who live outside [of] Wales”. It further noted that the article was a live travel blog and as such was updated throughout the course of the day, with the headline later amended to “Wales to reopen self-catering stays for Easter – but not for the English”.
5. Notwithstanding this, in order to resolve the complaint, the publication, upon receipt of the complaint, offered to include a footnote clarification to make clear that it was due to UK Government’s own restrictions that English holidaymakers would not be able to visit Wales.
6. The complainant considered that the remedial action offered by the publication was inadequate, as it was not sufficiently prominent, and did not address the inflammatory implication that the Welsh Government had made a decision to “ban” English holidaymakers.
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.
iv) The Press, while free to editorialise and campaign, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.
7. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
8. During IPSO’s investigation, the publication offered to publish the following clarification at the top of the online article:
“An earlier version of this blog carried the headline 'Wales to ban English tourists until at least the summer'. We have been asked to make clear that the ban was in relation to the Prime Minister's lockdown roadmap.”
9. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to his satisfaction.
10. 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: 13/03/2021
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 04/05/2021Back to ruling listing