Ruling

Resolution Statement: Complaint 00364-16 Millette v The Spectator

    • Date complaint received

      15th March 2016

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement: Complaint 00364-16 Millette v The Spectator

Summary of complaint

1. Dr Ben Millette complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Spectator had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Striking doctors need an injection of realism”, published on 16 January 2016.

2. The article was a leader piece which commented on the strike by junior doctors. It contained a line in relation to the junior doctors’ pay which said: “The new arrangements were always going to balance cuts to overtime pay with a healthy 11 per cent uplift in basic pay (now averaging £53,000 for all those not in the first two years of training).”

3. The complainant said that the figure of £53,000 for basic pay was factually incorrect, and provided a breakdown of the basic pay grades of junior doctors.

4. The newspaper said that the £53,000 figure related to total pay, and the error had come about because the line the article had been poorly phrased.

Relevant Code Provisions

5. Clause 1 (Accuracy)

i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.

ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and - where appropriate - an apology published. In cases involving the Regulator, prominence should be agreed with the Regulator in advance.

iii) The Press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

Mediated outcome

6. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.

7. The magazine published the following correction in print:

A leading article of 16 January 2016 referred to junior doctors being paid an average of £53,000 for those not in the first two years of training. This referred to total, rather than basic, pay.

8. The magazine also amended the sentence on the online version to read:

The new arrangements were always going to balance cuts to overtime pay with a healthy 11 per cent uplift in basic pay (already, the total pay for those not in the first two years of training averages £53,000).

9. The complainant said these actions resolved the matter to his satisfaction.

10. 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: 24/01/2016

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 15/03/2016