Ruling

Resolution Statement 00601-17 St Benet’s Catholic Church v Lewisham & Catford News Shopper

    • Date complaint received

      4th May 2017

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement 00601-17 St Benet’s Catholic Church v Lewisham & Catford News Shopper

Summary of Complaint

1. St Benet’s Catholic Church complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Lewisham & Catford News Shopper breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in relation to an article headlined “Antisocial, noisy members of church anger residents”, published on 27 April 2016.

2. The article reported on a dispute over noise levels and parking between the complainant, a church in Abbey Wood, and local residents. It reported comments from two local residents, a response from a representative of the complainant, and a response from the council. One of the local residents was reported to have claimed that “sometimes the congregation are coming out at midnight”, and that “the noise levels have been absolutely appalling”. It reported that the Church’s representative had apologised, had said that “they talk about noise but it’s only a Sunday service”, and said that “I agree there is an issue with parking”. The article was accompanied by a photograph of a number of people with the caption “[a named individual] and his neighbours are fed-up with ‘appalling noise’”.

3. The complainant denied that members of its parish were “antisocial and noisy”, or that members of the congregation had ever left the church around midnight.  The complainant said that the newspaper had reported a brief telephone conversation with one of its representatives out of context, which gave the impression that it accepted the claims made by the local residents. During this conversation, its representative said that a full response would be sent via email, and the reporter provided him with an email address. The complainant said that various unsuccessful attempts were made to send a response to the newspaper via the email address provided. It also sent the response to an alternative email address, as well as a generic email address for the newspaper. The complainant said that its response was not included in the article which was subsequently published.

4. The newspaper said that it always seeks to gain responses from all parties involved in a particular story.  It denied that it had provided the complainant with an incorrect email address, but offered a further opportunity for the complainant to respond, either by a further article or a letter.

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.

Mediated outcome

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

7. Following IPSO’s intervention, the newspaper offered to publish a feature on the complainant, and its positive work in the community, with the same prominence as the article under complaint.

8. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to its 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: 24/01/2017
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 03/03/2017