Resolution Statement 03262-18 Stein v The Herald
Summary of complaint
1. Sammy Stein complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Herald breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Pro-Israel activist refused permission to join cross party group on Palestine”, published on 26 February 2018.
2. The article reported on the complainant’s unsuccessful attempt to join the Cross-Party Group on Palestine in the Scottish Parliament. It reported the complainant’s views on this matter, and stated that his bid to join the group “came despite a history of conflict with the group’s co-convenor, SNP MSP Sandra White”. The article went on to state that “Mr Stein was behind leaflets saying Ms White had retweeted antisemitic content on social media”.
3. The complainant
said that the article was inaccurate because it stated that he was behind the
leaflet when he was not. He had previously complained about the same claim
being made in 2016; he had sent the leaflet to a journalist at the publication
at this time, but he was not the individual ‘behind’ it.
4. The publication
said that, when the claim had originally been made in 2016, it had been based
on the fact that the complainant had provided it with the leaflet; the reporter
had inferred from this that the complainant was ‘behind’ the leaflet. However,
when it was made aware that of the complainant’s position, it offered to amend
the original 2016 article, and to amend the 2018 online article to state that
the complainant “supported a campaign that said Ms White had retweeted
anti-Semitic content on social media”. It also offered to print the following
clarification in its print edition:
“We reported on February 26 that Sammy Stein was behind
leaflets saying Sandra White, the former SNP MSP, had retweeted anti-Semitic
content on social media. Mr Stein supported a campaign against Ms White but he
was not behind the leaflets or the campaign”.
5. The complainant
said this clarification was not adequate because it did not include an apology
for the effects this claim had had on him, and did not acknowledge the
publication’s error to his satisfaction.
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.
6. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
7. Following IPSO’s involvement, the publication offered to publish the following clarification, in addition to the amendments already offered:
“We reported erroneously on February 26 that Sammy Stein was behind leaflets saying Sandra White, the former SNP MSP, had retweeted anti-Semitic content on social media. Mr Stein was sympathetic to a campaign against Ms White but he was not behind the leaflets or the campaign. We apologise for the error.”
8. The complainant said this resolved the matter to his satisfaction.
9. As the complaint had been mediated successfully, the Complaints Committee did not make a determination as to whether there had been any breach of the Code.
Date complaint received: 29/04/2018.
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 01/06/2018
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