Ruling

00217-17 Versi v express.co.uk

    • Date complaint received

      13th April 2017

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Decision of the Complaints Committee 00217-17 Versi v express.co.uk 

Summary of Complaint 

1.    Miqdaad Versi complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that express.co.uk breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Police FORCED to take lessons on ISLAM to foster 'respectful' ties with Muslim communities”, published on 11 January 2017. 

2.    The article reported that “Brussels police will be forced to take lessons on Islam to help foster “respectful relations with Muslims communities in the Belgian capital.” The article reported that “officers will undertake an eight-hour module examining the religion, and study the history of immigration into Belgium”. It continued by quoting a Brussels MP as stating: "this training follows the request of the police force itself” and that “it is a continuation of the training, COPPRA.” 

3.    The complainant said that the term ‘police’ in the headline was a reference to the police force as a whole. He said that given that the training had come at the request of the police force, the police had not been forced to take lessons on Islam and therefore the article’s headline was misleading and not supported by the accompanying text. 

4.    The newspaper did not accept a breach of the Code. It said that the headline referred to ‘police’ in the singular, and therefore made clear that the article was referring to individual officers, rather than the entire Brussels constabulary. 

5.    It said that whilst the ‘police force’ had requested the training on Islam, that training formed part of the Community Policing and the Prevention of Radicalisation (COPPRA) training, which is mandatory for individual Belgium police officers. It provided a link to the website of the European Diversity in Policing, an EU-project which had established the COPPRA training, and featured information about how it was to be implemented in Belgium. 

Relevant Code Provisions 

6. 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. 

Findings of the Complaints Committee 

7.    The newspaper had provided evidence to demonstrate that the COPPRA training was compulsory for individual police  officers. Given this, the headline’s reference to police being forced to take the lessons on Islam was not inaccurate or misleading, and the headline was supported by the accompanying text. There was no breach of Clause 1. 

Conclusion 

8. The complaint was not upheld. 

Remedial Action 

N/A

Date complaint received: 11/01/2017

Date decision issued: 17/03/2017