· Decision of the Complaints Committee 04986-15 Large v The Daily Telegraph
Summary of complaint
1. Barnaby Large complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Daily Telegraph had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Gove ‘could not get X-ray for broken foot’”, published on 23 July 2015.
2. The article reported that Michael Gove’s wife had expressed concern that her husband had been unable to receive treatment for a possible broken foot because “parts of the NHS shut down on the weekends”. It stated that Mr Gove had attended a Minor Injuries unit, but had been unable to get an x-ray because “NHS radiology departments are closed on Sundays”.
3. The complainant said that NHS radiology departments in many hospitals are open 24 hours a day for emergencies. Had Mr Gove visited an Accident and Emergency clinic, rather than a Minor Injuries unit, he would have been able to see a doctor and may well have been able to have an x-ray.
4. The complainant considered that the newspaper had given a significantly misleading impression of the provision of NHS services in order to further a political agenda, and that the correction, published in print and online, had not been given sufficient prominence.
5. The newspaper said that as soon as it was made aware of the error, it corrected the inaccuracy in the online article, appended a footnote and published a correction in print, which clearly addressed the inaccuracy. It considered, however, that most readers would not have been misled by the article: they would have been aware that services at large general hospitals are often slower at the weekend, and that patients attending Accident and Emergency clinics are able to access radiology departments on Sundays.
Relevant Code Provisions
6. Clause 1 (Accuracy)
i.) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.
ii.) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and - where appropriate - an apology published. In cases involving the Regulator, prominence should be agreed with the Regulator in advance.
Findings of the Committee
7. It was accepted that NHS radiology departments in many hospitals are open seven days a week for emergencies. The article, however, had given the significantly misleading impression that patients cannot access radiology services in NHS hospitals on Sundays. This represented a failure to take care over the accuracy of the article in breach of Clause 1 (i), and a correction was required in order to avoid a breach of Clause 1 (ii).
8. When alerted to the inaccuracy, the newspaper had published a correction in its established Corrections and Clarifications column on page two – six pages further forward than the original article had appeared. The correction made clear that NHS radiology departments are open seven days a week in many hospitals. The newspaper had also amended the online article and appended the correction to it. The Committee considered that the prompt action taken by the newspaper was sufficient to meet the requirement of Clause 1 (ii). There was no further breach of the Code on this point.
The complaint was upheld under clause 1 (Accuracy).
Remedial Action Required
9. Having upheld the complaint, the Committee considered what remedial action should be required.
10. The newspaper had promptly published a correction, which corrected the inaccuracy, and had amended the online article and appended a note to it. No further action was required.
Date complaint received: 12/08/2015
Date decision issued: 04/11/2015Back to ruling listing