Resolution Statement – 28519-20 Clark v Northern Scot

Decision: Resolved - IPSO mediation

Resolution Statement – 28519-20 Clark v Northern Scot

Summary of Complaint

1. Niall Clark complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Northern Scot breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Scottish veterans railcard welcomed by Moray MSP Richard Lochhead”, published on 15 October 2020.

2. The article reported that a new railcard had been launched in Scotland for veterans and stated that the Scottish Government was “also funding a further discount scheme” to encourage uptake.

3. The complainant said that the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) as it implied that the Veterans Railcard was an initiative by the devolved Scottish Government, rather than being part of a UK-wide initiative.  

4. The publication did not accept that the article breached the Code, as it did not consider that the alleged inaccuracy identified by the complainant was significantly inaccurate or misleading. The publication said that transport was a devolved matter and that the railcard, in the format issued in Scotland, was introduced by the Scottish Government. It added that the information included in the article had been based upon a press release by the Scottish Government and published in good faith.

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.

Mediated Outcome

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 publication offered to publish the following footnote clarification to the online article:

“A previous version of this article did not make clear that the Veterans Railcard was a UK-wide initiative, with the Scottish Government funding the discount scheme discussed to encourage its uptake.  We are happy to clarify this.”

7. This proposal was rejected by the complainant. The publication then offered to publish a new online article, clarifying that the Veterans Railcard was a UK-wide initiative. This article also included the following clarification footnote:

“An online story published in October did not make it clear this was a UK Government initiative. We are happy to clarify that position.”

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: 15/10/2020

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 14/12/2020

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