Resolution Statement – 05628-21 Agyen v Daily Mail
Summary of Complaint
1. Lisa Agyen complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Daily Mail breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “We can't let selfish idiots who don't want free Covid vaccines that scientists worked around the clock to develop hold us hostage”, published on 19 May 2021.
2. The article appeared as part of a regular column, and was an opinion piece about individuals who refuse Covid-19 vaccinations. The article included the following statement: “In London, where I live, there are already hundreds of cases of the Indian variant. And that’s not because of people returning from the subcontinent: it’s because too few residents have had the jab.”
3. The article also appeared online in substantially the same format under the headline “SARAH VINE: We can't let selfish idiots who don't want free Covid vaccines that scientists worked around the clock to develop hold us hostage”.
4. The complainant said that the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1, as it was not the case that the “hundreds of cases of the Indian variant” in London were due to “too few residents” being vaccinated as opposed to “people returning from the subcontinent”. She said that this was not the case because: not all of those who are capable of transmitting the virus had been, at the time of the article’s publication, invited to be vaccinated; vaccinations do not entirely remove the risk of transmission; and it had been demonstrated that travellers returning to the UK had indeed returned with the variant.
5. The publication said it did not accept a breach of the Code. It said that, of the 400 cases of the Delta variant which had been identified in London, only a quarter had been directly linked with travel abroad. It also noted that, at the time of publication, London had a vaccination uptake which was lower than the rest of the country. It went on to point out that the sentence identified by the complainant as inaccurate did not state that the rise in cases were due to people refusing to be vaccinated, and that the article did not claim that vaccination would eliminate transmission of Covid-19. Rather, it was the columnist’s view that vaccination offered “a way out” of the pandemic.
Relevant Code Provisions
6. 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.
iv) The Press, while free to editorialise and campaign, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.
7. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
8. The publication offered to print the following clarification, in its regular Corrections & Corrections column in print and online:
An opinion piece on May 17 about vaccine refusal said that the number of ‘Indian variant’ cases in London had increased because ‘too few residents have had the jab.’ While vaccine uptake in London for the first nine priority groups was lower than in the rest of England, we are happy to clarify that there was no intention to suggest that all of these ‘Indian variant’ cases were linked to vaccine refusal.
9. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to her satisfaction.
10. 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: 19/05/2021
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 30/06/2021Back to ruling listing