Ruling

09956-22 Various v The Mail on Sunday

    • Date complaint received

      15th September 2022

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Decision of the Complaints Committee – 09956-22 Various v The Mail on Sunday

Summary of Complaint

1. The Independent Press Standards Organisation received various complaints that The Mail on  Sunday breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Cheers Ma'am! Boris Johnson brings back the Crown symbol on our pint glasses for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee - 18 years after the EU ordered us to remove them”, published on 29 May 2022.

2. The article’s headline reported that the “EU ordered us to remove Crown symbol from our pint glasses”; the article itself went on to report that “[p]int glasses will be adorned with a Crown for the first time in nearly 20 years after Ministers axed EU rules banning the patriotic symbol.” It went on to include a comment from a “Government source”, who was reported to have “said last night that the legal requirement to use the CE mark led to the effective removal of the Crown symbol because the UK ‘could not have two competing indications of conformity’.”

3. The article included a section with a subheading “How the EU stole the pint’s Crown. This section stated: “In 2004, the EU Measuring Instruments Directive, which came into force in 2006, required the EU-wide CE mark to be added to pint glasses.” It also included a comment from a “Government source”, which said that “’the legal requirement to use the CE mark led to the effective removal of the Crown symbol because the UK ‘could not have two competing indications of conformity’”.

4. The article also appeared online in substantially the same format, under the headline “Cheers Ma'am! Boris Johnson brings back the Crown symbol on our pint glasses for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee - 18 years after the EU ordered us to remove them”. This version of the article was published on 28 May 2022.

5. IPSO received 333 complaints about the article. Complainants said that the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1, because they considered that the EU did not “order” the UK to remove the Crown symbol form pint glasses, and that – while EU legislation did require the addition of a CE mark to denote that pint glasses were the correct size – this did not forbid the use of the Crown for decorative purposes, provided the Crown did not obscure the CE mark.

6. The publication did not accept that the article was inaccurate. It cited Directive 2004/22/EC on Measuring Instruments, which came into effect in 2006, as well as the European Commission’s Blue Guide on the implementation of EU product rules which explained the Directive further. The European Commission’s Blue Guide on the implementation of EU product rules stated that “The CE marking replaces all mandatory conformity markings having the same meaning, which existed before harmonisation took place. Such national conformity markings are incompatible with CE marking and would constitute an infringement of the applicable European legislation in question”.

7. The publication said the Directive had prohibited “national indicators of conformity”, such as the Crown symbol, and also said that only one symbol could be used at a time. Therefore, when the CE mark – which held the same meaning as the old Crown symbol –was introduced, only the CE symbol was allowed to be used, meaning the Crown symbol was effectively “banned” and was not permitted to be displayed for practical or decorative purposes.

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

8. Where complainants had raised concerns that the publication had reported on legislation in an inaccurate and misleading manner, the question for the Committee was whether the publication had a basis for reporting that the Crown symbol had been “banned” by the EU, and whether the legislation and guidance on its application could support this assertion.

9. The Committee noted that the legislation in question expressly stated that all mandatory conformity markings which carried the same meaning as the CE marking were incompatible with CE marking and would amount to a breach of the legislation. Given there was no dispute that the crown symbol had indeed carried the same meaning as the CE marking, it was neither inaccurate nor misleading to state that the use of the crown symbol had been “banned” as a result of the legislation, or that the legislation amounted to an “order” to remove it. Furthermore, the body of the article did provide further explanation: that there could not be two competing symbols of conformity, which effectively prevented the use of the crown. The article also included a comment from a government source, saying that the legal requirement to use the CE mark led to the effective removal of the Crown symbol because the UK ‘could not have two competing indications of conformity’.” In consideration of these factors, there was no breach of Clause 1 of the Code.

Conclusions

10. The complaint was not upheld.

 

Date complaint received: 29/05/2022

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 31/08/2022