Resolution Statement: Complaint 05130-15 Walker v Daily Mail

    • Date complaint received

      16th November 2015

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy, 2 Privacy

Resolution Statement: Complaint 05130-15 Walker v Daily Mail 

Summary of complaint

1. Jayne Walker complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Daily Mail breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 2 (Opportunity to reply) in articles headlined “Doughnuts and Pizzas on NHS” and “It’s insane for the NHS to dole out junk food just because it’s gluten-free”, published on 17 and 18 August 2015. 

2. The sub-headline of the 17 August article reported that the NHS had spent £116m on prescriptions for gluten-free junk food. The 18 August article was a comment piece that expressed concern that the NHS was spending money on prescriptions for people claiming to be gluten intolerant, rather than those diagnosed with coeliac disease. A picture caption in the online version stated that the NHS has spent £116m on gluten-free foods. 

3. The complainant said that the articles were inaccurate, because the £116m was the total spent by the NHS on foods for all special diets; £26.8m was the amount spent on gluten-free foods. She also said that a majority of the spending was on staple rather than junk foods, and that prescriptions for gluten-free foods are normally only available to those with coeliac disease. 

4. The newspaper accepted that the NHS spending on gluten-free foods was £26.8m, and that a majority of the money would have been spent on staple rather than junk food. It said that gluten-free foods can sometimes be prescribed to people with gluten intolerance, but accepted that this generally happens only rarely. 

Relevant Code Provisions

5. 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. 

Clause 2 (Opportunity to reply) 

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

Mediated outcome

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

7. After further correspondence, the newspaper offered to publish the following correction and apology online and in print: 

Food on prescription 

The strapline to a report on 17 August about NHS food prescriptions said that £116m was spent on “gluten-free junk food on prescription”. We are happy to clarify that this was the bill for foods for all special diets, not just sufferers of coeliac disease. The NHS bill for gluten-free products for coeliac disease sufferers was, in fact, £26.8M in 2014. We are also happy to clarify that the majority of the £116m was spent on staple foods rather than on “junk” food; that doctors are normally only authorised to prescribe staple foods, not ”junk food”, for people diagnosed with coeliac disease; and that NHS rules do not allow prescriptions for people with gluten intolerance. We apologise to coeliac sufferers for any distress they may have been caused. 

8. It also offered to remove picture caption in the online version of the 18 August article. 

9. The complainant said that this would be a satisfactory resolution to her complaint. 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: 19/08/2015

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 16/11/2015