Ruling

Resolution Statement: Complaint 00658-15 Burbage Parish Council v MailOnline

    • Date complaint received

      15th May 2015

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement: Complaint 00658-15 Burbage Parish Council v MailOnline 

Summary of complaint

1. Burbage Parish Council (Leicestershire) complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that MailOnline had published an article headlined “Gipsy great-grandfather’s body could be exhumed because relatives of Muslim in neighbouring plot don’t want him buried next to an unbeliever”, on 10 February 2015, which raised a breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice. 

2. The article reported on a dispute relating to a burial in Burbage Cemetery, in which a Muslim family had objected to the burial of a non-Muslim in an adjacent grave to their relative. It reported that the non-Muslim family had been warned that their relative may have to be moved, and that the Council would meet the following day to decide whether he would be exhumed. It included a statement from the Parish Council chairman, who said that the Council was working with the relatives to reach an amicable and acceptable solution. 

3. The complainant denied that the Parish Council or any of its representatives ever considered exhumation, or mentioned or inferred it to anyone. It said that the Council was not meeting to discuss whether to move the body. It said that when contacted by the newspaper, the Council’s spokesperson had denied the suggestion that exhumation was a possibility. 

4. The newspaper disputed the complainant’s account of the conversation between the newspaper and the Council’s spokesperson; it said that the spokesperson would not comment on the matter until after the Council meeting that evening. The newspaper said that readers would be aware that the claims about exhumation were the specific claims of the non-Muslim family. Upon receiving this complaint, it made a number of amendments to the article. 

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. 

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 instigated an investigation into the matter. 

7. The newspaper made a further amendment to the online article, and offered to publish the following clarification as a footnote to the article, and as a standalone “Corrections and Clarifications” item, linked to the news homepage of the website for 24 hours, and searchable thereafter: 

An article of 10 February, “Gipsy great-grandfather’s body could be exhumed”, initially reported that Burbage Parish Council were to consider if [the non-Muslim man] should be moved to a new plot at Burbage cemetery at a meeting the following day. We are happy to make clear the Council’s position that it has never discussed or considered the exhumation of [the non-Muslim man’s] body, and we apologise for any misunderstanding. 

8. The complainant said that it would be content to resolve its complaint on this basis. The clarification and footnote were published, and the article was amended as agreed. 

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: 10/02/2015

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 15/05/2015