Resolution Statement: Complaint 04989-15 Jones v Daily Mail

    • Date complaint received

      10th December 2015

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement: Complaint 04989-15 Jones v Daily Mail

Summary of complaint

1. Peter Jones complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Daily Mail breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Rubbish!”, published on 5 August 2015.

2. The article was a comment piece in which the columnist criticised waste policy in the UK. As part of this, it reported that David Miliband had proposed that “every household should buy a ‘kitchen caddy’”, and that waste policy in the UK started with a “report for the EU drawn up by academics at the University of Dresden and intended to tackle the problem of a lack of landfill sites in the Netherlands and Belgium”. It said that this EU document was “embraced and gold plated by British bureaucrats”, and that “these ‘EU rules’ never seem to apply in mainland Europe” because in some European countries “bins are emptied daily”.

3. The complainant raised a number of concerns about the accuracy of the article, the majority of which were resolved in direct correspondence with the newspaper.

4. In relation to the remaining points, the complainant said that it was inaccurate to state that David Miliband had said that households should “buy” a kitchen caddy. Further, the EU document was a “directive” rather than a “report”, and it had not been designed by academics at the “University of Dresden” to tackle landfill site problems in the “Netherlands and Belgium”. It was also misleading to say that the directive had been “gold-plated” in England; in relation to EU directives, this term specifically refers to circumstances where a member state's legislation to incorporate the directive exceeds the minimum requirements to achieve compliance. Further, it was inaccurate to claim that the “EU rules” do not apply to other European countries or that “bins are emptied daily” in these countries; bins are emptied daily in some parts of England and many of the bins emptied daily in other European countries are communal rather than belonging to individual households.

5. The newspaper said that in 2007, when David Miliband was Environment Secretary, a number of publications reported that ministers had or would suggest that kitchens should have caddies to collect food waste separately, in coverage relating to the Waste Strategy for England. Further, the description of the EU directive had been based on previous research into the subject carried out by the columnist. The columnist had used the term “gold-plated” to illustrate his view that waste management policy had been subject to too much bureaucracy since the EU directive had been drawn up.

Relevant Code Provisions

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.

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

Mediated outcome

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

8. After further correspondence, the newspaper offered to amend the article to remove the references to David Miliband, the “University of Dresden” academics, and to the “Netherlands and Belgium”. It also offered to amend the reference to the EU “document” to reflect that it was a “directive”. In addition, it offered to remove the reference to the directive being “gold-plated”, and to the EU rules “never seem[ing] to apply in mainland Europe”.

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.

Date complaint received: 20/10/2015
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 10/12/2015