Ruling

Resolution Statement: Complaint 09576-15 Freudenthal v Daily Mirror

    • Date complaint received

      23rd December 2015

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement: Complaint 09576-15 Freudenthal v Daily Mirror

Summary of complaint

1. Dr Bernard Freudenthal complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Daily Mirror breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Betrayal of our babies”, published on 25 November 2015.

2. The article reported that a study had found that babies born at the weekend are more likely to be stillborn or die shortly after birth than those delivered on weekdays. It reported that “770 babies delivered each year in NHS hospitals on a Saturday or Sunday are either stillborn or die within seven days”, and that this was “7.3% more than during the week”.

3. The complainant said that it was inaccurate for the article to suggest that a report had found babies born at the weekend were more likely to die than those born during the rest of the week; the study in question had not compared weekend death rates with weekday death rates. Instead, it had compared the death rate of babies born on Tuesdays with that of babies born on other days. The study found that, per year, there were 770 more deaths than what would be expected if the death rate were constant throughout the week, and was the same as on Tuesdays.

4. The newspaper said that prior to publication during the editorial process, some confusion had arisen over the figures cited. It offered to publish a clarification in print and online over the figures reported. The complainant did not consider that the offer was sufficient.

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.

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 revised correction in print on page 2:

On November 25 under the headline "Betrayal of our babies" we reported on a study by Dr William Palmer, stating that "770 babies delivered each year in NHS hospitals on a Saturday or Sunday are either still born or die within seven days - 7.3% more than during the week." In fact, the study suggests that “770 more perinatal deaths per year … occurred above what [would be expected] if mortality was always the same as for babies delivered on a Tuesday”.

8. It offered to publish the following correction online:

We originally reported that Dr Palmer's study revealed that 770 babies delivered each year in NHS hospitals at the weekend are either stillborn or die within seven days - 7.3% more than during the week. The article has been amended to make clear that in fact the study's findings suggest that “770 more perinatal deaths per year … occurred above what [would be expected] if mortality was always the same as for babies delivered on a Tuesday”.

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: 23/11/2015
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 23/12/2015