Resolution Statement 06286-17 Wallis v

Decision: Resolved - IPSO mediation

Resolution Statement 06286-17 Wallis v

1. Robbie Wallis complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in relation to an article headlined, “Watch the moment Russian parachute bombers blow up jihadis in Syria”, published on 18 April 2017.

2. The article reported on the bombing of Northern Hama in Syria by Russian forces, and claimed that it was an “attempt to destroy jihadist bases”. The article included a video of the bombing, and an image of a still from the video, with the caption “Russian parachute bombs explode in ISIS stronghold Hama in Syria”.

3. The complainant said that Northern Hama was not an ISIS stronghold, and that it was unlikely that the attack was an attempt to destroy jihadist bases. The complainant provided maps which he said supported his position that Northern Hama was not an ISIS stronghold, and also provided copies of news reports which he said supported his position. The complainant said that the sources that the publication had used to verify the information in the article were not credible.

4. The publication said that it had taken care to verify with local sources the veracity of the video, and the claim that the bombs were Russian and targeted at jihadis. It said that the article did not make the claim that Northern Hama as a whole was an ISIS stronghold, but rather that the buildings that were targeted were ISIS strongholds within the territory; the article mentioned the specific areas attacked.

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.

iv) The Press, while free to editorialise and campaign, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

Mediated outcome

6. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.

7. Following IPSO’s intervention, the publication offered to remove the article, and to re-publish a different article using the same URL, which set out the positions that Hama was not an ISIS stronghold, and that the target of the bombing was disputed. The captions were also rewritten to remove the reference to ISIS.

8. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to his 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: 18/04/17
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 25/10/17

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