Resolution Statement – 27974-20 Garrity v Scotsman.com
Summary of Complaint
1. John Garrity complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) that Scotsman.com breached Clause 1 of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Scottish independence: New Survation poll finds majority of Scots would vote Yes”, published on 11 September 2020.
2. The article reported on an opinion poll completed by Survation. It stated that this poll suggested that “the majority” of Scots would vote for independence as “53 per cent backed the idea with 47 per cent voting No.
3. The complainant said that this article had distorted the findings of the survey, in breach of Clause 1. He said that the poll did not find that “the majority” of the Scottish public, or 53 per cent of respondents, would vote Yes in an independence referendum. In fact, the poll found that 45 per cent of respondents would vote Yes, 39 per cent would vote No and 15 per cent did not know how they would vote; it was not the case that a majority of those polled would vote for Scottish independence. The complainant said that in order to claim that the poll had found “53 per cent” would vote for independence, the publication had excluded the respondents who had answered “don’t know”. He said that the newspaper’s failure to make clear that the respondents who had been undecided were excluded from the analysis rendered the article a misleading report of the poll’s findings.
4. The publication did not accept that the article had distorted the poll or contained any significant inaccuracies.
Relevant Code Provisions
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.
5. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
6. During IPSO’s investigation, the newspaper offered to publish a letter from the complainant and the following clarification as a footnote to the online article:
“We are happy to clarify that this poll referenced above did not reflect the 15% of respondents who were undecided. With the 'don't know' respondents included in the results, 45% of Scots would vote Yes in an independence referendum and 39% would vote No.”
7. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to his satisfaction.
8. 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: 13/09/2020
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 08/12/2020Back to ruling listing