Resolution Statement 03599-16 Wallace v The Sun

    • Date complaint received

      1st September 2016

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Complaint 03599-16 Wallace v The Sun

Summary of Complaint

1. Sebastian Wallace complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Sun breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Time to mothball the EU”, published on 15 June 2016. The article was also published online with the headline “Mothball the EU: Remain poll lead collapses as Sun Brexit call is ‘rocket boost’ to UK share prices”. 

2. The article reported on developments in the EU referendum campaign. It reported that analysts had “predicted UK shares would get a 'rocket boost' and firms would boom post-Brexit”. In addition to the main headline, the print version of the article was headlined with three bullet points, one of which was: “Brexit rocket boost to shares”.  The article explained that strategists at a named global bank had predicted that a vote to leave the EU would cause Europe’s stock markets to fall “by as much as ten per cent”, but that the FTSE 100 should outperform the wider European markets by around 5%. It also reported that an investment manager had said that “the City will experience an unprecedented boom when we are liberated from the EU”. It reported that following the UK’s departure from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) in 1992, the FTSE 100 “rocketed by a fifth”, and that an individual from a named economic research company said that this was partly due to a fall in sterling, which was “something that might occur in the event of a Brexit”.

3. The complainant said that the article claimed that the stock market was rising. In fact, he said that global stock markets were falling, and that the day before publication, the FTSE 100 fell significantly. In addition, the complainant said that strategists from the global bank had actually predicted that the price of UK equities would fall by 5%, and that the investment manager’s comments related to growth in business in the City, which was a separate issue to share prices. The complainant said that the claim that there would be a “rocket boost” to shares was a distortion of the claims made by the individuals referred to in the article.

4. The newspaper said that the article was not reporting on changes to share prices at the time of publication. It said that the article made clear that analysts had predicted that there would be a “rocket-boost” to UK shares should the country vote to leave the EU. The newspaper said that the “rocket boost” claim was not solely based on the prediction by strategists at the named bank; it was also based on the comments of the investment manager, and the comments of the other analyst about the rise in share prices following the UK’s departure from the ERM in the 1992.

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. 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

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

7. Following IPSO’s intervention, the newspaper amended the headline of the online article to: “Remain poll lead collapses as experts predict Brexit will be ‘rocket boost’ to UK share prices”. It added the following as a footnote to the article:

The headline on this article has been amended to make clear that the ‘Rocket Boost’ was a prediction about the effect of Brexit on UK share prices, rather than a description of share prices at the time of publication.

8. The complainant said that these actions resolved the matter to his satisfaction.

9. 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: 15/06/2016
Date complained resolved: 16/06/2016