Ruling

Resolution Statement 00827-18 Lennox v The Sunday Times

    • Date complaint received

      26th April 2018

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement 00827-18 Lennox v The Sunday Times

Summary of complaint

1. Sarah Lennox complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Sunday Times breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined, “Schools rush in on merest hint to label pupils as transgender,” published on 21 January 2018.

2. The article reported that children presenting to the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) were being offered medical treatments that could leave some infertile. It reported that the GIDS had more than 2,000 referrals in a nine month period, including a number of children aged between three and six years old. It stated that the youngest child to receive medical treatment was 11 and that GIDS was the only NHS clinic offering medical treatments such as hormones to suppress puberty and cross-sex hormones to develop different sexual characteristics. It went on to report that while nearly half of older children referred to the clinic opt for possible medical treatment to change gender, only about a quarter of five to twelve year olds make the same choice. The article was also published online, headlined “Schools rushing ‘on whisper’ to label pupils as transgender.” The online article was substantively the same as the article that appeared in print.

3. The complainant said that the article was misleading, as it was contradictory. She said that the article had reported that no children under the age of 11 had been offered medical intervention, but went on to state that a quarter of five to twelve year olds referred to the clinic opt for possible medical treatment to change gender.

4. The newspaper did not accept that it had breached the Code. It said that the article had made clear that the youngest child to be offered medical treatment was 11. In these circumstances it believed that it was clear that children between the ages of five and twelve referred to in the article, were offered intervention later, and not when first referred to the clinic. It offered to amend the online article to make this point explicitly. It also offered to publish a clarification, in print and online, stating :

“A sentence in our report 'Schools rush in on merest hint to label pupils as transgender' (News, January 21) could have been misinterpreted to be suggesting that children younger than eleven presenting to the Tavistock and Portman GIDS opted for medical treatment to change gender. We are happy to clarify that this is not the case.”

5. The complainant said that this clarification was not acceptable, as it did not make clear what explicit medical treatment it was referring to.

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.

Mediated outcome

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

8. During IPSO’s investigation the newspaper offered to publish the following clarification, in print and online:

“A sentence in our report 'Schools rush in on merest hint to label pupils as transgender' (News, January 21) could have been misinterpreted to be suggesting that children younger than eleven presenting to the Tavistock and Portman GIDS opted for medical interventions. We are happy to clarify that this is not the case since no medical interventions are offered until after the onset of puberty.”

9. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to her 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: 22/01/2018

Date complaint concluded: 25/03/18