Ruling

Resolution Statement: Complaint 02248-14 Johnson v Bracknell News

    • Date complaint received

      24th December 2014

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement: Complaint 02248-14 Johnson v Bracknell News 

Summary of complaint

1. Ben Johnson, on behalf of SITA UK, complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Bracknell News had published an article, headlined “Donation a charity could do without!”, on 27 November 2014, that raised a breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice. 

2. The complainant was concerned that the newspaper had presented allegations as statements of fact, thereby giving the significantly misleading impression that a SITA UK employee had been responsible for misconduct to the detriment of a local charity. After an internal investigation, the employee had been found innocent of any wrongdoing. 

3. The newspaper said the article had not stated that a SITA UK employee had been found guilty of misconduct. The story had said the charity was in possession of CCTV footage that showed a SITA UK employee committing an act of misconduct. The employee was not named and the article quoted from a statement issued by SITA UK. 

Relevant Code Provisions

4. 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, and - where appropriate - an apology published. In cases involving the Regulator, prominence should be agreed with the Regulator in advance. 

iii) The Press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact. 

Mediated outcome

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

6. The newspaper offered to publish the following clarification on page 2: 

“Clarification and apology

IN THE Bracknell News and Ascot News of November 26, 2014 we published a story on our front page under the headline Donation A Charity Could Do Without.

We would like to clarify that following an internal investigation carried out by SITA UK, they found no evidence of any wrongdoing by any of their employees.

While our report makes clear that allegations had been levelled against an unnamed employee of SITA, we are happy to clarify that no-one has been found guilty of any wrongdoing and wish to apologise if our article inadvertently implied this.” 

7. The complainant said the published correction would resolve the matter to his satisfaction. 

8. 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: 09/12/2014 

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 24/12/2014