Resolution statement: 03086-16 Leaper v Daily Telegraph

    • Date complaint received

      30th June 2016

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Summary of Complaint

1.Craig Leaper complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Daily Telegraph breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “The junior doctors’ battle is over – but the NHS war is just beginning”, published in print and online on 19 May.

2. The article was a comment piece, and claimed that the dispute over the new contract for junior doctors “wasn’t, really, about junior doctors’ pay – which averages £53,000 after two years in the job”.

3. The complainant said that the article implied that average pay for doctors in their third year of training was £53,000. He said £42,000 represented the typical pay for a third year doctor.

4. The newspaper said that the sentence under complaint would have been understood to refer to all junior doctors who had completed the two foundation years of training. It said that the average pay for this category of junior doctors is £53,000, and therefore denied that the article was inaccurate on this point.  It said that even if the sentence in question was a reference to the average pay for doctors in their third year of training, this would not be a significant inaccuracy in the context of an article which was not about junior doctors’ pay, and did not use the figure as the basis for an argument about the junior doctors’ contract dispute.

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.

iii) A fair opportunity to reply to significant inaccuracies must 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

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

7. After further correspondence, the newspaper offered to publish the following clarification on page 2 in the print edition of the newspaper:

Junior doctors' pay

An article of 20 May said that average pay of junior doctors is £53,000 "after two years in the job". We wish to clarify that this is not the average for junior doctors in their third year of work, which is significantly lower. Rather, it is the average remuneration of all junior doctors who have completed the 2-year Foundation programme and are in the later stages of training.

8. It also offered to amend the relevant sentence in the online version of the article as follows: “As ever, this was a proxy war. It wasn’t, really, about junior doctors’ pay – which averages £53,000 for all junior doctors who have completed the 2-year Foundation programme and are in the later stages of training”. It offered to add a footnote to the online article explaining what had been changed and why.

9. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to his 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.

Complaint received: 23/05/2016
Complaint Concluded: 14/06/2016