Ruling

Satisfactory Remedy – 11792-22 Caves v thestar.co.uk

    • Date complaint received

      9th March 2023

    • Outcome

      Resolved - satisfactory remedy

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Satisfactory Remedy – 11792-22 Caves v thestar.co.uk


Summary of Complaint

1. Timothy Caves complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that thestar.co.uk breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Second cost of living payment: Date confirmed for when £324 energy grant will reach Sheffield households”, published on 27 September 2022.

2. The article – which appeared online only – reported on a government energy grant, stating that “[t]he second cost of living payment worth £324 will be paid to UK households on October 1”. It went on to say that while the government had previously only listed the time for the payment as autumn 2022, “national newspapers are today reporting it will arrive in bank accounts on Saturday, October 1”. The article was removed prior to a complaint being made to IPSO.

3. The complainant said that the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 to report that the second payment would be made on 1 October 2022. He said that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had issued a statement that this was incorrect and that they could not confirm a specific date for the payment.

4. The publication accepted that the date included in the article was incorrect, and that this amounted to a significant inaccuracy given that the aim of the article was to inform readers of the date the payment would arrive. It said that the date was being widely reported by other media outlets across the country at the time, and as soon as the DWP had informed it that the date was incorrect, the article was taken down and a correction was published. It said that it did not know which newspaper had originally reported the incorrect date, and that its reporter had followed the lead of other publications in publishing the inaccurate information.

5. The publication expanded on the timeline of events which led to the article’s removal and the subsequent publication of a correction. It said that at 12:14 on 28 September 2022 – the day after the article was published – the reporter received a tweet from a reader pointing out the incorrect date. It said that the reporter then contacted the DWP, who confirmed the date was inaccurate. The article was then removed on the same day and, at 15:14, a correction was published. The correction appeared as a standalone article, and was headlined “Correction: Reports that second cost of living energy grant will land on October 1 are inaccurate, says DWP”. The correction article opened with the following wording, before going on to expand on the nature of the grant in question: 

Several national and local newspapers, including The Star, erroneously reported on September 27 that the second half of a £650 grant would be paid to UK residents on October 1.

This was inaccurate, and the Government has restated that a date has not been confirmed.

[thestar.co.uk] has removed the story claiming this from our website, and apologises for the error.

6. The publication said that the word “Correction” was used at the start of the standalone article, to clearly and prominently indicate that there was an inaccuracy. It also said that this would have appeared at the top of the news section on the publication’s website and that it would have been the first thing readers saw when they looked at the website; it considered this duly prominent.

7. The publication further added that on 4 October 2022 – once DWP confirmed the date the payment would be made – it published another article confirming the date for the payment.  Therefore, it considered that it had undertaken the action promptly once it had been made aware of the error and confirmed the correct position – it had taken three hours from the publication first being made aware of the error to the publication of the corrective action.

8. The complainant did not accept the steps taken as a resolution to his complaint, as he considered the publication had failed to identify the newspaper that was the source for the story and the inaccuracy.

Relevant Clause 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.

Outcome

9. IPSO considered whether the actions taken by the publication amounted to a satisfactory remedy of the complaint.

10. The publication removed the article and published a standalone correction within three hours of being notified of the inaccuracy, and one day after the article had been published, which the Committee considered was duly prompt. The correction, which included an apology, made the correct position clear: “This was inaccurate, and the Government has restated that a date has not been confirmed”. The Committee also considered the standalone correction that appeared on the homepage was duly prominent, where the inaccuracy had appeared in the body and the headline of the online article.  It was not necessary for the publication to identify the source of the inaccuracy in the way sought by the complainant where it had promptly acted to address it and done so satisfactorily.

11. In line with the provisions in Regulation 40 of IPSO’s Regulations; having considered the nature of the complaint and the publication’s remedial actions in response, the Committee concluded that the remedial measures offered by the publication were a satisfactory resolution of the complaint. As the correction had already been published, the complaint would be closed.

Remedial Action Required

12. N/A


Date complaint received:  01/10/2022

Date complaint concluded by IPSO:  24/02/2022