Resolution Statement 00850-18 Bellamy v The Sunday Times

    • Date complaint received

      12th April 2018

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement 00850-18 Bellamy v The Sunday Times

Summary of complaint

1. Amy Bellamy 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 "Revealed: how Momentum staged town hall putsch”, published on 21 January 2018.

2. The article reported on a discussion held during a Labour branch meeting, which the article said took place “last month”, on the “problem of street prostitution”. The article contained criticism of the attendees who had failed to respond to a comment made during the discussion: “No one said a word. No action was taken… Everyone, including him, carried on with the discussion”. The article placed this criticism in the context of wider concern that Momentum, a support group for Jeremy Corbyn, would take control of the Council during local elections in May 2018.

3. The complainant said that the article inaccurately suggested that the Branch meeting took place in December 2017 when in fact, the meeting was held in October 2016. She said this was a significant distortion, because the meeting was used as a preface to, and the basis of, current criticism of potential changes in the composition of the Council. She also said that the article criticised different individuals, by implying that the alleged comment was made in a different meeting with different attendees and executive board.

4. The newspaper accepted that the article had reported incorrectly that the discussion on street prostitution had taken place "last month"; it accepted that the meeting took place in October 2016. The newspaper explained that the error had occurred due to a misunderstanding of information provided to the reporter. It said that this information could not be verified because the minutes of the meeting had not been published.

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.

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 involvement, the publication offered to amend the article amend the first paragraph of the online version of the story from "last month" to "in October 2016". It also offered to publish the following correction in print in its established Corrections section on the Letters Page and also online:

Our article "Revealed: How Momentum Staged Haringey Town Hall Putsch" (News, Jan 21) reported incorrectly that in December 2017 a meeting of the Seven Sisters Labour Party discussed street prostitution and an anti-semitic comment was made. In fact this had occurred in October 2016. We apologise for the error.

8. The complainant said this resolved the matter to her satisfaction.

9. As the complaint had been mediated successfully, 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 by IPSO: 26/03/2018