Resolution Statement: Complaint 03313-15 Wood v The Times

    • Date complaint received

      2nd July 2015

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 3 Harassment

Resolution Statement: Complaint 03313-15 Wood v The Times

Summary of complaint

1. Rosie Wood complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Times had published an article, headlined “It’s common sense: kill the rats, move the bats”, on 26 January 2015, which raised a breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice. She was also concerned that in its handling of her initial complaint (prior to contacting IPSO) the newspaper had breached Clause 3 (Privacy) of the Code.
2. The complainant expressed concern that the article, which concerned human intervention in controlling the populations of certain wildlife species, made a number of inaccurate statements about bats. The complainant initially complained directly to the newspaper, and the text of that complaint was later used to lodge a formal complaint about her actions to her employer. She was concerned that the use of her complaint in this way constituted an intrusion into her privacy and a breach of Clause 3 of the Code.
3. The newspaper did not believe that its article was significantly inaccurate; it did not require correction. The newspaper also said that neither it nor the journalist had lodged any complaint with the complainant’s employer, and it was confident that its complaints-handling procedures were appropriate and had been properly followed in this case.

Relevant Code Provisions

4. Clause 1 (Accuracy)

i) The press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information.

ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and – where appropriate – an apology published.

Mediated outcome

5. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the complaint.  
6. The newspaper offered to send the complainant a letter expressing regret at the difficulties she had experienced in making a complaint, and to publish the following clarification in its Corrections & Clarifications column:

In our article “It’s common sense: kill the rats, move the bats” (Opinion, January 26), we said that bats cannot be removed from churches, but must choose to leave. In fact churches can apply for licences that allow them to disturb bats. We also said that “most bat species are not rare or declining”; we are happy to clarify that species native to the UK are still considered rare compared with historical population levels.
7. The complainant said these offers would resolve the matter to her 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: 01/05/2015
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 23/06/2015