Ruling

04864-16 Young v Daily Express

    • Date complaint received

      13th October 2016

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 12 Discrimination

Decision of the Complaints Committee 04864-16 Young v Daily Express

Summary of complaint

1. Jenny Young complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Daily Express breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 12 (Discrimination) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “May will stop Migrant crisis”, published in print and online on 13 July 2016.

2. The article reported that limitations on immigration will be prioritised by Theresa May as she negotiates Britain’s exit from the European Union. It stated that “number one on [Theresa May’s] list will be an end to free movement, removing the right of EU citizens to come to the UK”. The article reported that a source close to Ms May had said “the clear message from the EU referendum was that people want us to get back control of our borders”. The article made reference to Theresa May’s time at the Home Office saying she “grappled with trying to reduce annual net migration to the Government’s target of tens of thousands in the face of the mass influx from other EU nations”.  It went on to include a quote from an ally who said that Ms May wants to ensure that “any new deal with the EU will return full border controls to the UK” and that she “understands that British people really want this sorted out”.

3. The article appeared online in substantively the same form apart from the headline which read “Theresa May will stop migrant crisis: New PM vows she will end free movement from EU”.

4. The complainant said that the headline of the article was inaccurate as it has been well documented that there is no “migrant crisis” in relation to EU migrants. The complainant also said that the headline’s reference to a “migrant crisis” denigrated the valuable contributions made to UK society by both EU and other migrants. The complainant further considered that describing the situation as a “crisis” presented migrants and migration as a problem to be solved. This was discriminatory.

5.The newspaper denied that the article was inaccurate. It said that the article explained why EU migration is referred to as a “migrant crisis”: the clear message from the result of the EU referendum was that “people want [the UK] to get back control of our borders”. It was the newspaper’s position that in these circumstances it was not inaccurate for the headline to refer to a “migrant crisis”.

6. The newspaper noted that the complainant had not alleged discrimination towards any individual on the basis of any of the characteristics protected by Clause 12. As such Clause 12 was not engaged.

Relevant Code Provisions

7. 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.

Clause 12 (Discrimination)

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

Findings of the Committee

8. The complex situation regarding the effects of EU migration on the UK, and its innumerable social, economic, cultural and other effects is open to comment and interpretation, not least given the context of the referendum vote and the impending Brexit negotiations. The Committee fully understood the complainant’s view that EU migration was valuable to the UK. However, the newspaper was equally entitled to take a contrary view and characterise the position as a “crisis”. The newspaper’s reference to a “migrant crisis” was therefore not significantly misleading. There was no breach of Clause 1.

9. The terms of Clause 12 protect identified individuals mentioned by the press against discrimination on the basis of their race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or any physical or mental illness or disability, and do not apply to groups or categories of people. The complainant’s concern that the article was discriminatory towards migrants in general did not engage this Clause.

Conclusions

10. The complaint was not upheld.

Remedial action required

N/A

Date complaint received: 13/07/2016
Date decision issued: 26/09/2016