Resolution Statement: Complaint 03527-15 Galvin v Belfast Telegraph

    • Date complaint received

      7th August 2015

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 12 Discrimination, 2 Privacy

Resolution Statement: Complaint 03527-15 Galvin v Belfast Telegraph 

Summary of complaint

1. Martin Galvin complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Belfast Telegraph had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Opportunity to reply) and Clause 12 (Discrimination) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Martin Galvin: He may be older, but his hatred remains intact”, published on 26 January 2015. 

2. The complainant expressed concern that the article had contained prejudicial and pejorative references to his being Irish-American, and to Irish-Americans more generally. 

3. He identified what he believed to be inaccuracies in the article: that he “liked people to kill for Ireland”; that his political viewpoint was based on “hatred”; and that he was involved in raising money for US arms shipments. He also said that the article had misrepresented the contents of an interview which he had previously given to The Guardian newspaper. With regard to Clause 2, the complainant said that he had contacted the Editor following publication of the article and requested an opportunity to reply; this was refused. 

4. The newspaper denied any breach of the Editors’ Code. It believed that its article was accurate and did not contain any of the inferences identified by the complainant, nor did it include any prejudicial or pejorative references to his race. However, it offered to publish a letter from the complainant, in response to the article. 

5. The complainant did not believe that a letter would be an adequate opportunity to reply: the delay in offering it was too great, and it was insufficient to repair the damage caused to his reputation. 

Relevant Code Provisions

6. 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. 

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

Clause 2 (Opportunity to reply) 

A fair opportunity for reply to inaccuracies must be given when reasonably called for. 

Clause 12 (Discrimination) 

i) The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability. 

ii) Details of an individual’s race, colour, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story. 

Mediated outcome

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

8. The newspaper offered to publish a full-length opinion piece by the complainant. 

9. The complainant said that publication of the opinion piece 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. 

Date complaint received: 08/05/2015

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 07/08/2015