Ruling

Resolution Statement 08333-16 Tandridge District Council v Express.co.uk

    • Date complaint received

      1st December 2016

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

08333-16 Tandridge District Council v Express.co.uk

Summary of Complaint

1. Tandridge District Council complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Express.co.uk breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Bonkers council destroys playground as FAT CHILDREN might get stuck in THIS tunnel”, published on 2 September 2016.

2. The article reported that the complainant had destroyed a “fun tunnel” in a children’s playground due to fears that overweight children might get stuck in it. It included the following statement from the complainant: “Following a safety inspection [the fun tunnel] was condemned and as a result the council took action to remove it”. The article also included comments from a number of local parents, expressing concern at the complainant’s decision to remove the tunnel.

3. The complainant said that the claim that the tunnel had been removed because of fears about overweight children getting stuck was inaccurate. It said that the tunnel was removed as it had cracks which, if left, could cause the tunnel to collapse. 

4. The publication said that a parent had said that the tunnel had been demolished due to “a risk of a child getting stuck”, and that this had been translated as a risk of an overweight child getting stuck. The publication accepted that the article was inaccurate on this point.

Relevant Code Provisions

6. 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

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

8. Following IPSO’s intervention, the publication offered to make a number of amendments to the article, and to publish the following correction as a footnote:

Correction

This article was amended on 4 October 2016. It previously reported that a “bonkers council” had destroyed a fun tunnel in a playground over fears that fat children might have got stuck in it. This was incorrect. In fact the tunnel was demolished, following an inspection, over fears for the safety of the local children. We are happy to clarify this and apologise to Tandridge District Council and Warlingham residents for this error.

9. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to its 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: 09/09/2016
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 09/11//2016