Ruling

Resolution Statement 01768-17 Hughes v express.co.uk

    • Date complaint received

      27th July 2017

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement 01768-17 Hughes v express.co.uk

Summary of complaint

1. Justin Hughes complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that express.co.uk breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) in an article headlined “House of Lords Brexit meddling CRUSHING economy as pound tumbles amid uncertainty”, published on 8 March 2017.

2. The article reported on the economic uncertainty surrounding the triggering of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and contained criticism of the factors which it identified as having the potential to delay the UK’s ability to leave the EU.

3. In that context, the article referenced the change in qualifying majority rules, which relate to the number of votes required to pass proposals into EU law. The article said that: "Theresa May has just 23 days before a deadline looms that will give the European Parliament an opportunity to prevent the UK from leaving the European Union. New rules which say 14 member states have to agree to Britain leaving will come into force on April 1."

4. The complainant expressed concern that the article had inaccurately reported on the impact that that the change in qualifying majority rules would have on Britain’s ability to leave the EU. He said that there the change to qualified majority voting would have no impact on Britain’s ability to trigger Article 50.

5. The newspaper accepted that the change to qualified majority voting would not prevent a member state from activating Article 50.

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.

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 of the complaint, the newspaper offered to amend the article, to remove the line: “Theresa May has just 23 days before a deadline looms that will give the European Parliament an opportunity to prevent the UK from leaving the European Union. New rules which say 14 member states have to agree Britain leaving will come into force on April 1.”

9. It offered to add the following to the body of the article:

“Theresa May has 23 days before a deadline looms that could give elements within the European Council an opportunity to frustrate a deal between the UK and European Union. New rules which say 14 member states have to agree to the deal between Britain and the European will come into force on April 1.”

10. It also offered to publish the following correction, to appear on the article:

An earlier version of this article said "Theresa May has just 23 days before a deadline looms that will give the European Parliament an opportunity to prevent the UK from leaving the European Union. New rules which say 14 member states have to agree Britain leaving will come into force on April 1.” We have been asked to clarify it is only Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty that regulates how an EU Member State gives notice to leave the Union. Article 50(2) states that it shall be the European Council which conducts the negotiations on behalf of the European Union. The Council acts ‘by qualified majority’ voting however from 01 April 2017 qualified majority voting changed from 65% to 55%. The changes to the voting rules in the European Council has no impact on the triggering of Article 50. We are happy to set the record straight.

11. The complainant said this would resolve his complaint to his satisfaction.

12. 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: 09/03/2017
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 22/05/2017