Resolution Statement 09551-19 Chowdhury v Daily Gazette (Colchester)
Summary of Complaint
1. Shoomi Chowdhury complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Daily Gazette (Colchester) breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 12 (Discrimination) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Islamist centre's pub conversion set for approval”, published on 17 December 2019.
2. The article reported on the plans to convert a pub into an Islamic community centre, and the protests against this.
3. The article also appeared online in substantially the same format under the headline “Plans to convert pub into Islamic community centre is set for approval”.
4. The complainant said that the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 because it described the Islamic community centre as an “Islamist community”. She said that the term “Islamist” was widely understood to refer to violent extremists, and it was inaccurate to describe the community centre in this way.
5. The complainant said that the use of this term also breached Clause 12, as it targeted the Muslim community and incited violence, racism and Islamophobia.
6. The publication said it accepted that it had made an error. It said this was a human error caused by the journalist, who was very upset with the mistake made. The publication had spoken to both the reporter and the content editor to ensure a similar mistake was not repeated. Prior to the complaint being referred by IPSO, the newspaper published a correction in the print edition:
Islamic centre headline error
IN yesterday’s Gazette we printed an article about Colchester Islamic Community Centre’s bid to convert the former Beehive pub. In the headline, the word “Islamist” was used - a term that refers to militancy and fundamentalism.
We apologise for this grave error; the headline should have read “Islamic centre’s pub conversion bid set for approval”. We have received many complaints from different communities.
We would like to clarify Colchester Islamic Community Centre is a community and familycentred organisation whose work has always looked at the betterment of Colchester and looking to positively contribute to the community.
Relevant Code Provisions
7. 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.
Clause 12 (Discrimination)
i) The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual's, race, colour, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.
ii) Details of an individual's race, colour, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story.
8. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
9. The publication offered to write a follow-up piece or to publish a letter from the complainant in order to resolve her complaint.
10. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to her satisfaction.
11. 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: 17 December 2019
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 13 February 2020