Ruling

Resolution Statement: Complaint 12043-15 Ballard v Daily Mail

    • Date complaint received

      1st February 2016

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement: Complaint 12043-15 Ballard v Daily Mail

Summary of complaint

1. Jackie Ballard, CEO of Alcohol Concern, complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Daily Mail breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “’Drink less’ campaign…by booze PR firm”, published on 18 December 2015. It was published online with the headline “It’s Black Eye Friday! Brits will clock off for Christmas with millions going to the pub and alcohol sales rocketing by 142% - but thousands will end the night in A&E”.

2. The complainant said that the article had given the inaccurate impression that the “Dry January” campaign was run by Public Health England (PHE). It reported that PHE paid a well-known public relations firm, which also undertakes work for alcohol brands, to promote the campaign. The complainant said that Alcohol Concern runs the “Dry January” campaign, and it does all its own promotion in-house. PHE merely supports Alcohol Concern’s campaign as it is an effective way to change behaviour. The complainant was concerned that the article could negatively affect the numbers of people signing up to “Dry January”.

3. The newspaper said that its article was factually accurate, but it understood the complainant’s concerns and supported the aims of “Dry January”. It published the following statement in the newspaper’s Corrections & Clarifications column, and appended comments from the complainant to the online article:

“An article on December 18 reported that Public Health England was this year paying a public relations company which also works for drinks companies, to run the ‘Dry January’ campaign. We would like to clarify that the campaign, aimed at changing people’s drinking behaviour, is owned by the charity Alcohol Concern which does not take funding from the drinks industry.”  

Relevant Code Provisions

4. 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.

Mediated outcome

5. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter. 

6. The newspaper offered to make a donation to Alcohol Concern and mark the cuttings in its archive to make clear that “Dry January” is run by that charity. It also offered to make an amendment to the online article.

7. The newspaper offered to make a donation to Alcohol Concern and mark the cuttings in its archive to make clear that “Dry January” is run by that charity. It also offered to make an amendment to the online article.

8. The complainant said that these actions would resolve the matter to the organisation’s satisfaction.

Date complaint received: 18/12/2015
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 01/02/2016