Decision of the Complaints Committee – 02805-20 Roberts v liverpoolecho.co.uk
Summary of Complaint
1. David Roberts complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that liverpoolecho.co.uk breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) in an article headlined “Check coronavirus cases where you live using your postcode” published 22 April 2020.
2. The article contained a video captioned “10 ACTIVITIES YOU CAN DO DURING THE CORONAVIRUS LOCKDOWN” and stated that this was according to “Guidance to police”. These 10 activities included: driving to the countryside for a walk, as long as more time was spent walking than driving; exercising more than once a day where this was a reasonable excuse for leaving home; stopping to rest for short periods whilst walking; and, buying alcohol and luxury items.
3. The complainant said the video was inaccurate as the examples it gave contradicted the government’s guidelines. For example, he said that the government’s restrictions required people to only buy necessities, exercise only once a day and only travel when strictly necessary. He also expressed a concern that the video could encourage irresponsible behaviour.
4. The publication did not accept it had breached the Code. It stated that it had relied on guidelines from the National Police Chief’s Council and College of Policing, which was made clear in the video. These guidelines stated that it was likely to be reasonable to drive to the countryside to walk, where more time is spent walking than driving; to buy luxury items and alcohol alongside everyday items; stopping to rest or eat lunch whilst on a long walk; and, exercising more than once a day where this could be considered a reasonable excuse for leaving home.
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 correction, promptly and with due prominence, and –where appropriate- an apology published. In cases involving IPSO, due prominence should be as required by the regulator.
Findings of the Committee
6. The video had made clear that the activities it reported people could do during lockdown, which the complainant disputed as being permitted at the time of publication, came from “Guidance to police”. During IPSO’s investigation the publication had provided a copy of the guidance it had relied upon, and where this had been accurately reported, there was no breach of Clause 1.
7. Clause 1 requires publications to take care not to publish inaccurate or misleading information, and to correct significantly inaccurate, misleading or distorted information. The complainant’s concern that reporting could encourage irresponsible behaviour did not engage the terms of Clause 1. Any concerns that such behaviour contravened the law was a matter for the police rather than IPSO.
8. The complaint was not upheld.
Remedial Action Required
Date complaint received: 23/4/2020
Date decision issued: 09/09/2020Back to ruling listing