Resolution Statement 06188-19 Allbeury v The Daily Telegraph
Summary of Complaint
1. David Allbeury complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Daily Telegraph breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Rural drugs crime soars as gangs move away from cities”, published on 13 August 2019.
2. The article reported on the rise of gang-related organised crime in rural areas. It said that “in the village of Westhumble in Surrey, which has a population of 649, drug crime has more than quadrupled in the past five years, from nine cases to 42.”
3. The article appeared online in the same form with the headline “County lines gangs drive drug crime rise in towns and villages, as it falls in city centres”. It was substantially the same as the print version.
4. The complainant said that the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 of the Editors’ Code. All of the 42 cases had not occurred in Westhumble village, but the wider surrounding area. Additionally the offenses did not relate to organised crime, but were primarily for the possession of cannabis.
5. The publication said it had relied on a BBC article, but did accept that this BBC article had inaccurately attributed the location of the crimes to Westhumble village. After publication, the newspaper was also contacted by Surrey police saying that the crimes occurred close to, but not in the village of Westhumble. The article was corrected upon receiving this information from the police and amended from “in the village of Westhumble in Surrey” to “near the village of Westhumble in Surrey”. After receiving the complaint the publication further offered to publish the following in their usual Corrections and Clarifications section in print and online:
An article about 'county lines' drug gangs of 23 Aug, which reported a BBC analysis of police crime figures, wrongly stated that the number of drug crimes has risen from nine to 42 in the village of Westhumble, Surrey, in the last five years. In fact, these figures relate to the area around Westhumble, not in the village itself, and are primarily accounted for by offences of cannabis possession, not dealing, at a local beauty spot.
Relevant Clause 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 correction and apology in its usual Corrections and Clarifications section in the print edition, and to remove the online article:
An article about 'county lines' drug gangs of 23 Aug, which reported a BBC analysis of police crime figures, wrongly stated that the number of drug crimes has risen from nine to 42 in the village of Westhumble, Surrey, in the last five years. In fact, these figures relate to the area around Westhumble, not in the village itself, and are primarily accounted for by offences of cannabis possession, not dealing, at a local beauty spot. We apologise for the confusion.
9. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to his 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: 18/08/2019
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 07/10/2019Back to ruling listing