Ruling

06399-21 Brace v thejc.com

    • Date complaint received

      6th January 2022

    • Outcome

      Breach - sanction: action as offered by publication

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Decision of the Complaints Committee – 06399-21 Brace v thejc.com

Summary of Complaint

1. Sai Brace complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that thejc.com breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “EXCLUSIVE: Secret tape from inside Palestine convoy revealed”, published on 17th June 2021.

2. The online article reported on a recent demonstration, which described a Palestine convoy’s journey to London to join other demonstrators. It stated that “[a]s was the case at other recent pro-Palestine rallies, extreme anti-Israel sentiment was on display”. The article gave examples of such displays of “anti-Israel sentiment” including “[a] homemade poster [that] asked: ‘What is antisemitic in saying that all Jews support violence and imperialism?’”.

3. The complainant said that the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 as it had stated that a handmade poster at the demonstration had read: “What is antisemitic in saying that all Jews support violence and imperialism?”, whereas the original poster had said: “What is anti-semitic is saying that all Jews support violence and imperialism!". To support his position, he provided a photograph of the poster in question. The complainant said it was significantly inaccurate to swap the “is” for “in” and the exclamation mark for a question mark, as he considered this changed a factual statement into an antisemitic question.

4. The publication accepted that it had, due to a hasty misinterpretation, incorrectly quoted the statement that had appeared on the poster and agreed that this rendered the article significantly inaccurate. The publication said that upon receipt of the complaint to IPSO, it had amended the article within 48 hours to state that “[a]nother homemade poster asked: “What is antisemitic is saying that all Jews support violence and imperialism”, and that it had also thanked the complainant for his vigilance in highlighting the error

5. In addition to this, the newspaper published the following footnote correction:

“In earlier version of this story a placard was described as reading: “What is antisemitic in saying that all Jews support violence and imperialism?” The word 'in' should have been 'is' and has now been corrected, with the question mark also removed.

Relevant Code Provisions

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.

Findings of the Committee

6. The article had incorrectly quoted a poster at the demonstration as reading: “What is antisemitic in saying that all Jews support violence and imperialism?”; there was no dispute that the original poster had actually read: “What is anti-semitic is saying that all Jews support violence and imperialism!", and that photographs of the poster were publicly available. Whilst the Committee noted that the publication said that this had been due to human error, it took the view that the publication had failed to take sufficient care not to publish inaccurate information and found that there had been a breach of Clause 1(i). As the inaccuracy had distorted the meaning of the poster and changed the statement to a question, it was the Committee’s view that this was a significant inaccuracy, and therefore the newspaper was obliged, in accordance with the terms of Clause 1(ii), to correct this promptly and with due prominence.

7. The Committee turned to the question of whether the action undertaken by the publication was sufficient to avoid a further breach of Clause 1(ii). The newspaper had amended the online article and added a footnote correction within 48 hours of being notified of the complaint to IPSO. The Committee considered that the amendments made by the publication along with the publication of the correction identified the inaccuracy and put the correct position on record. It considered that the amendment and correction were published promptly and were of due prominence. As such, Committee considered that this was sufficient to meet the terms of Clause 1 (ii).

Conclusions

8. The complaint was partly upheld under Clause 1(i).

Remedial Action Required

9. The published correction put the correct position on record and was offered promptly and with due prominence. No further action was required.

 

Date complaint received: 17/06/2021

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 15/12/2021