Ruling

10967-21 Extinction Rebellion v Daily Star

    • Date complaint received

      17th March 2022

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Decision of the Complaints Committee – 10967-21 Extinction Rebellion v Daily Star

Summary of Complaint

1. Extinction Rebellion complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Daily Star breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “IT’S CHAMPAGNE RUN THEM OVER”, published on 20th October 2021.

2. The article reported that Noel Gallagher was “livid at the road-blocking antics of Insulate Britain eco-crusties, who have brought parts of London to a standstill” It described Insulate Britain as an “Extinction Rebellion offshoot” and reported that “a judge extended an injunction barring them from obstructing traffic.”.

3. The article also appeared online under the headline “Noel Gallagher furiously lets rip at Insulate Britain protesters blocking motorways”

4. The complainant said that the article breached Clause 1 because it was inaccurate to describe Insulate Britain as an “offshoot” of Extinction Rebellion (XR). Whilst the individual who founded Insulate Britain was one of five co-founders of XR, he had been asked to leave more than two years ago as his views were now seen as incompatible with the organisation. The complainant said that, since then, XR had sought to distance itself as an organisation from him. In addition, the complainant stated that the individual, since leaving XR, had founded other organisations and this created further distance between him (and Insulate Britain) and XR.

5. The publication did not accept a breach of the Code. It said that it was not in dispute that this individual had been a founder of XR and that he had gone on to found Insulate Britain. The publication further stated that it appeared as though he was still giving talks about XR as late as November 2021 and provided an article that reported on him giving a talk to an XR society at a university. Finally, the publication cited the definition of “offshoot” as “a thing that develops from something else” and, as the individual had been a founder of XR and then Insulate Britain, it was not misleading or inaccurate to use the term in this context.

6. The complainant stated that the individual had been giving the talk as a guest rather than as an associate of XR. It said that the principles of the individual were not aligned with XR and that “offshoot” implied a shared strategy, which the complainant said was not the case.

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

7. The Committee acknowledged the complainant’s point that the individual who had founded Insulate Britain had left Extinction Rebellion (XR) two years earlier. However, where this individual had been one of the founders of XR, there was a connection between the organisations. The term “offshoot” was a vague descriptor rather than a clear statement that XR had played a defined role in the founding of the organisation, especially where it appeared as a passing reference rather than a focal point in the article. The article reported on a celebrity’s comments on the organisation’s recent actions rather than an exploration of Insulate Britain’s foundation. Where there was a clear connection between XR and Insulate Britain through a common founder, the description of Insulate Britain as an “offshoot” of XR in this article was not significantly inaccurate. There was no breach of Clause 1.

Conclusion(s)

8. The complaint was not upheld.

Remedial Action Required

9. N/A


Date complaint received: 21/10/2021

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 23/02/2022