Resolution Statement – 07085-20 South Yorkshire Police v Telegraph.co.uk
Summary of Complaint
1. South Yorkshire Police complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Telegraph.co.uk breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Police have no objection to Derby vs Leeds at Pride Park”, published on 5 June 2020.
2. The article reported over the location of a football game between Derby and Leeds. It reported that the “head of UK football police had proposed that game should be moved to Southampton” and that he had identified the game as "high-risk”. It also contained a statement from the Head of UK football police which stated that “the Constabulary is not proposing the use of neutral venues.”
3. The complainant said that the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 as the Head of UK football had not proposed to move the game to Southampton. It also noted that the statements had been written as facts, rather than allegations, and directly contrasted with the statement that had been provided by the police. The complainant also expressed concerns that the full statement of the police was only visible below a paywall, meaning that readers would not be able to see the police’s position.
4. The publication amended the article after receiving a direct complaint from the complainant, and removed the paywall. However, after this amendment, the article still read that the “Telegraph Sport reported last night that… the head of UK's football police, had proposed that the potentially pivotal match against Leeds should be played at Southampton's St. Mary's Stadium”.
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.
6. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
7. The publication offered to print the following correction:
CORRECTION: As originally published, this article stated that Mark Roberts, the head of the UK Football Policing Unit, had proposed that the Derby v Leeds Championship game should be moved to Southampton, and referred to 'plans' for such a move. It also said Mr Roberts had identified the game as 'high risk'. We accept that Mr Roberts categorically denies both that he ever proposed such a move, or that he regarded it as high risk, and the article has been modified accordingly.
It also amended the article to report that “Telegraph Sport last night reported allegations that… the head of UK's football police, had proposed that the potentially pivotal match against Leeds should be played at Southampton's St. Mary's Stadium”.
8. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to its 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: 05/06/2020
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 09/06/2020