Resolution Statement – 12231-20 Hannaway v edinburghlive.co.uk
Summary of Complaint
1. Elizabeth Hannaway complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that edinburghlive.co.uk breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Edinburgh Lush store hit back after being targeted by [named author] protesters in an ‘act of hate’” published on 4 August 2020.
2. The article reported that a shop in Edinburgh had placed a large sign in its window after it said that it was ‘targeted’ the previous Sunday by protesters. It reported that it was the newspaper’s understanding this consisted of stickers with a ‘transphobic message’ being stuck to the shop following a small gathering of self-described ‘gender critical feminists’. It reported that the group carried banners in support of a high-profile author who had recently been accused of transphobia, and the article explained why she had been accused of this. The article reported a social media statement from the shop, part of which said: “Anyone passing our store this morning you may have seen that store front had been targeted by a transphobic group, because of this we have a new window graphic”.
3. The complainant said that the article was misleading in breach of Clause 1 by not making clear the basis for the claim that the shop had been the victim of a transphobic attack. She said the “attack” consisted of a sticker stuck on the outside of the shop which said “keep prisons single sex”. She said that this was not transphobic. She also said that there was no indication that the protest involved supporters of the author or the author herself, although she did accept that the protesters carried banners which said “I love [author]”. Finally, she said that the article was unbalanced and biased against the protestors.
4. The newspaper did not accept that the article was inaccurate. It said that it was entitled to report the shop’s claim that it had been the victim of a transphobic attack and had taken care to present this as such via the use of quotation marks and the inclusion of the shop’s social media statement. It said that the article made clear that it was its “understanding” that this consisted of stickers being stuck to the shop by the protesters, and reported in quotation marks that these had a “transphobic message”. It said that it had since contacted the shop to clarify what these stickers had said, however the shop had not responded to its inquiries. The newspaper also noted that the complainant did not have any first-hand knowledge of the shop or the protest, and the stickers she referred to were in relation to a branch in London. It provided photographs from the event showing the protestors with “I love [author]” posters and t-shirts and putting stickers on a different building in Edinburgh. It also provided a link to an online forum where people were discussing the event, in which one person said that they might be able to sticker the shop referred to in the article.
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. During IPSO’s investigation, the newspaper offered to contact the protestors, and consider adding a quote from them setting out their reasons for their protest.
8. The complainant said that this would resolve her complaint to her 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: 05/08/2020
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 16/11/2020