Resolution Statement 03074-18 McTurk v Press & Journal
Summary of Complaint
1. Euan McTurk complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Press & Journal breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Tories on attack as electric car scheme fails to take off”, published on 11 April 2018.
2. The article reported that there had been “slow uptake for plans to make Scotland diesel and petrol-free”. It said that “the uptake of a scheme to encourage drivers to buy electric vehicles has been criticised by the Scottish Conservatives”. The article said that there had been 407 ‘confirmed applications’ made for an electric vehicle loan scheme, and that the “201 applications expected in 2017-18 is up from 122 in the previous financial year”. It said that in total, the seven-year scheme had funded the purchase of 499 electric vehicles. The article went on to set out the criticisms of these figures made by the Scottish Conservatives, and the response from Transport Scotland, which highlighted that “the scheme is regularly over-subscribed”.
3. The complainant said that the headline and sub-headline were misleading: it was not accurate to state that the scheme had “failed to take off” or that uptake was “low” when the scheme was oversubscribed the previous year, and the funding for the scheme had consequently been exhausted. He said that he figures included in the article were for confirmed loans, not applications for loans.
4. The publication denied that the headline was misleading: it was clear that this was the Conservatives’ interpretation of the figures, rather than a statement of fact. It said that the figures included in the article had been presented as they had been supplied to the publication.
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.
6. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
7. Following IPSO’s investigation, the publication said it was happy to publish the following clarification on page 2 of its print edition:
“A report on April 11 about the uptake of Scottish Government electric-vehicle loans carried the headline ‘Tories on attack as electric car scheme fails to take off’. We have been asked to clarify that the headline was based on a Conservative interpretation of the overall figures since the scheme’s inception. We are also happy to clarify that figures referred to in the story as ‘applications’ actually represented ‘successful applications’ for electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles. The total number of applications received for the loan between 2011-12 and 2017-18 was 1071, not 416 as previously stated.”
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: 13/04/2018
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 15/06/2018
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