Resolution Statement 04791-18 Legatum Institute Foundation v The Times
Summary of complaint
1. The Legatum Institute Foundation complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Times breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Legatum think tank to be scrutinised over Russia links”, published on 4 December 2017.
2. The article was published as part of wider coverage into allegations of Russian influence in British politics. The article described the complainant as a “think tank with close links to Conservative Brexiteers”. It reported that Dominic Grieve MP, the new chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, had told another publication that he would “scope” the complainant “as part of preparations for investigation into Russian activities against the UK.
3. The complainant said that Mr Grieve had not said that the ISC would “scope” concerns raised in Parliament about the Institute. The complainant said that prior to contacting IPSO, it had written to Mr Grieve concerning the article; the complainant said that the letter which it had received in response demonstrated that the article was a distortion of Mr Grieve’s words. The complainant provided a copy of this letter to IPSO, in which Mr Grieve wrote the following: “Your letter focused on remarks attributed to me by the Sunday Times, suggesting that the Legatum Group would be subject to scrutiny as part of the Committee’s forthcoming Russia Inquiry. This comment was, unfortunately, entirely misleading. Members of the Committee’s staff were present during the interview and can confirm this.”
4. The newspaper said that as made clear in the article, it had reported claims made in another publication. It said that it was entitled to rely upon a seemingly plausible and uncontentious statement reported in a reputable publication, particularly where there was nothing in the public domain to challenge the accuracy of the report. Notwithstanding this, the newspaper said that prior to publication, the journalist had contacted a spokesperson from the Legatum Institute, and had specifically asked them about the reporting in the other publication. It said that the spokesperson did not challenge or question this reporting, and gave the reporter no reason to doubt the accuracy of it.
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.
iii) A fair opportunity to reply to significant inaccuracies should be given, when reasonably called for.
6. IPSO began an investigation into this matter.
7. During the course of IPSO’s investigation, the publication offered to publish the following correction online, and in its established Corrections and Clarifications column:
“An article we published on December 4 2017 requires correction. We reported that the Legatum Institute think tank was to be reviewed by the head of the parliamentary intelligence and security committee (ISC) after ‘concerns’ were raised about its links to Conservative Brexiteers and the background of its co-founder and main financier Christopher Chandler. The ISC chairman Dominic Grieve MP, who was quoted in our article, did not state that Mr Chandler or the institute was being specifically “scoped” by his committee as part of its investigation into Russian involvement in British politics, rather that Russian activities against the UK are a subject of disquiet to parliamentarians and nothing had been formally ruled in or out of his inquiry’s scope. We are happy to set the record straight.”
8. The complaint said that this would resolve the matter to their 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: 30/07/2018
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 16/10/2018
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