Ruling

13872-16 Versi v express.co.uk

    • Date complaint received

      6th April 2017

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Decision of the Complaints Committee 13872-16 Versi v express.co.uk

Summary of Complaint

1. Miqdaad Versi complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that express.co.uk breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “New £5 notes could be BANNED by religious groups as Bank CAN'T promise they’re Halal”, published on 02 December 2016.

2. The article reported on the new £5 notes which had come into circulation in the United Kingdom. The subheadline said that because traces of animal fat had been found in the notes, “religious leaders are considering banning £5 notes from their places of worship”. It reported that the Bank of England could not confirm whether the tallow in the notes “were made with animal fat which was Halal, or contained pork, making it a risk for Muslim or Jewish people”. The article continued by quoting Hindu religious leaders’ “major concern” about the presence of tallow in the notes and reported their view that “whether we accept five pound notes in religious ceremonies in future has to be considered”.

3. The complainant expressed concern that the article was inaccurate because there are no Muslim religious groups who want to ban the £5 notes. He said that given that the article focussed on the views of Hindu religious leaders, the headline was not supported by the text because the term ‘Halal’ is not a term used by Hindus, but is instead a term used by Muslims to mean ‘permissible’.

4. The newspaper said that the article made reference to four religious groups: Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and Jews but went on to quote Hindu leaders only, who had voiced concerns over the composition of the £5 notes. The newspaper accepted the complainant’s position that no Muslim religious groups were banning the £5 note.

5. The newspaper accepted that the headline drew a link between “religious groups” banning the note and the word “Halal”, and therefore the newspaper said that the term “Halal” was used in an incorrect context. The newspaper amended the article’s headline to "New £5 note could be BANNED by religious groups as Bank CAN'T promise what note is made of".  It also published the following correction, which appeared at the bottom of the article; a link to the correction was published on the homepage of the newspaper’s website, and appeared for approximately 12 hours.

This article was amended on [DATE]. The headline to the article originally said "New £5 notes could be BANNED by religious groups as BANK CAN'T PROMISE they're Halal".  Whilst the article quoted concerns of Hindu faith leaders in fact it did not refer to other faith leaders of the Muslim, Jewish or Buddhist communities.  The use of the word 'Halal' in the headline was incorrect given the context of the article.

6. The complainant said that the correction should also contain an apology for the inaccuracy relating to term “Halal”. He also requested an opportunity to reply, under the terms of Clause 1 (iii).

Relevant Code Provisions

7. 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.

Findings of the Complaints Committee

8. The article reported that Hindu groups might ban the £5 notes from religious ceremonies, and additionally, that the Bank of England could not confirm whether the tallow used in the production of the notes was Halal or made from pork, “making it a risk for Muslim or Jewish people”.

9. The Committee noted that, taken in isolation, the headline carried the suggestion that the “religious groups” were Muslim. However, read in context, the Committee was satisfied that this was used as a shorthand for concerns relevant to a number of faith groups. In that context, the reference to Halal was not significantly misleading

10. The Committee noted that the complaint was brought by a third party, and further, in circumstances where the Committee did not establish any significant inaccuracies, Clause 1 (iii) was not engaged. There was no breach of Clause 1.

Conclusions

11. The complaint was not upheld.

Remedial Action Required

11. N/A

Date complaint received: 02/12/2016
Date decision issued:13/03/2017