Ruling

10784-22 Various v Telegraph.co.uk

    • Date complaint received

      13th October 2022

    • Outcome

      Breach - sanction: action as offered by publication

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Decision of the Complaints Committee – 10784-22 Various v Telegraph.co.uk

Summary of Complaint

1. The Independent Press Standards Organisation received various complaints that Telegraph.co.uk breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Allison Bailey: Barrister wins discrimination case against Stonewall”, published on 27 July 2022.

2. The article reported that a barrister who “was placed under investigation by her chambers after opposing Stonewall’s ‘trans extremism’ has won her claim for discrimination”. It went on to report that: “Alongside her action against [her chambers, the barrister] also sued Stonewall, alleging that the charity had induced the chambers to discriminate against her. However, this was rejected by the tribunal.”

3. IPSO received 11 complaints about the article under complaint. The complainants said that the headline of the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy), as the barrister had not won a discrimination case against Stonewall. Rather, they said, the barrister had only succeeded in her claim against her chambers.

4. The publication accepted that the original headline had been published in error, and that the barrister had not succeeded in her claim against Stonewall. It said that the error had occurred after the member of the digital team responsible for uploading the article and creating the online headline misinterpreted the copy. However, it said that the article itself was accurate, and set out the correct position regarding the barrister’s claim against Stonewall.

5. The publication further said that it had identified the headline error within 30 minutes and amended it promptly prior to any complaint being received. It said that the headline was first amended to read “Allison Bailey: Barrister wins discrimination case in a 'fightback for feminism'”, before later being amended to read “Allison Bailey was unlawfully victimised for opposing Stonewall’s ‘trans extremism’, tribunal rules”. Given the promptness with which the original error had been identified and corrected, the publication said that it did not appear to the digital team that any correction wording was required.

6. However, the publication said that, where the matter had been brought to its attention via IPSO, it would be content to add the following correction to the article as a footnote; this was done on 17 August 2022, less than a week after IPSO’s investigation commenced:

Correction: The headline of this article previously reported that Allison Bailey had won her case against Stonewall. That was not correct. As the article makes clear, her case against Stonewall was dismissed.

7. As the original accuracy would have appeared on the website’s homepage – albeit only for a short period of time – the publication said that it would also be content to publish a thumbnail reading “Allison Bailey: Correction” on its homepage, linking to the correction wording it had already published, should IPSO’s Complaints Committee consider this to be required to address the terms of Clause 1 (ii) – though it noted that complainants had not raised this point in their complaints. It said that the link on the homepage would remain live for 24 hours.

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.

Findings of the Committee

8. The publication accepted that the original article’s headline was inaccurate; the barrister had not succeeded in her claim against Stonewall. As a result, the Committee considered that there had been a failure to take care and therefore a breach of Clause 1 (i); however, the Committee appreciated that the publication had recognised the error almost immediately. It considered that was significantly inaccurate, where it was reported as a matter of fact that a discrimination claim against a prominent charity had succeeded when it had actually failed. The newspaper was required by the terms of Clause 1 (ii) to correct it.

9. The Committee next considered whether the remedial action undertaken and proposed by the publication was sufficient to address the terms of Clause 1 (ii). For remedial action to satisfy the terms of Clause 1 (ii), it must correct the original inaccuracy promptly and with due prominence. In this case, the correction clearly set out both the original inaccuracy and the correct position. It had been offered and published promptly – within a week of IPSO beginning its investigation – and the Committee considered that a footnote correction was sufficiently prominent in circumstances where the original inaccuracy had since been amended and no longer appeared in the article. The Committee was also satisfied that – having briefly published the inaccuracy on its homepage – the publication’s offer of a thumbnail linking to the correction and published on its home-page addressed the inaccuracy, in line with the terms of Clause 1 (ii). There was no further breach of the Code.

Conclusion(s)

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

Remedial Action Required

11. The correction which was published – and the subsequent proposal to publish a homepage reference to the correction – clearly put the correct position on record, and was offered promptly and with due prominence. The front-page thumbnail should now be published.


Date complaint received: 02/08/2022

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 30/09/2022