Ruling

Resolution Statement 01395-22 Wilshaws of Bexton Limited v Macclesfield Express

    • Date complaint received

      26th May 2022

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement 01395-22 – Wilshaws of Bexton Limited v Macclesfield Express

Summary of Complaint

1. Wilshaws of Bexton Limited complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Macclesfield Express breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Protest leads to a wedding ban for venue”, published on 29th December 2021.

2. The article, which appeared on page 2 of the newspaper, reported that the “owners of [Lyme Breeze] have been told it cannot be used for weddings – for now at least – in the face of large objections from nearby residents.” It said that a report by council planners found the main issue with the owner’s application for a “’certificate of lawful existing use’ – permission to use the premises for functions that also included christenings, wakes and conferences – was demonstrating the continuous use of the premise’s as “a restaurant with ancillary functions and events venue”, concluding that the owner’s submission “lack[ed] evidence” to demonstrate this. The article then stated that “functions cannot take place now unless a full planning application is submitted and approved” and included the following statement by the individual described as “acting as agent for the owners”: “Whilst it is clear that the holding of functions such as parties, weddings, christenings, and meetings/conferences etc is ancillary to the main use of the site, these uses are in any event established and lawful by virtue of the fact that they have been ongoing for a continuous period of in excess of 10 years”. The article included a number of the objections raised by residents.

3. The complainant, the owner and operator of Lyme Breeze, said that the article was inaccurate, in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy). The complainant denied that Lyme Breeze had been “banned” by the council from hosting weddings. The complainant also denied that it had been instructed by the council that functions could not take place at the venue, without the submission and approval of a full planning application.

4. In addition, the complainant said that the article was inaccurate to report that there were “large objections” to the application, and to include the comments submitted by residents. The complainant said that the inclusion of these comments, and their prominence, sensationalised events.

5. The complainant also expressed concern that it had not been provided with an opportunity to respond to the claims made prior to the article’s publication. The comments included within the article from the “agent” were taken from the report’s submission to the council; this representative had not been approached for further comment prior to the article’s publication.

6. The publication maintained that its coverage was accurate. It said that while the council had confirmed that the venue held a licence to host Marriage and Civil Partnership ceremonies, this was separate from permission to host celebrations, functions and events.

Relevant Code Provisions

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

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 complainant said that the following actions would resolve the matter to its satisfaction: the removal of the article from a third party news distribution website, and the publication of an apology and correction.

9. The publication removed the article from the third party news distribution website and published the following item in its Corrections and Clarifications column, which appeared on page 2:

“Lyme Breeze - An Apology

Our article 'Protest leads to a wedding ban for venue', published on 29 December 2021, incorrectly reported that as part of a planning process the owners of Lyme Breeze, Adlington, Macclesfield had been told it could not be used for weddings. Our article also stated that functions could not take place until a full planning application was submitted and approved which was also incorrect. We are happy to clarify that no ban had been imposed, and apologise to the owners and customers of Lyme Breeze for any distress caused.”

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: 31/01/2022

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 18/05/2022