Ruling

13902-16 Versi v Express.co.uk

    • Date complaint received

      23rd February 2017

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Decision of the Complaints Committee 13902-16 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 “Shock poll: Four in ten British Muslims want some aspect of Sharia Law enforced in the UK”, published on 2 December 2016. 

2.    The article reported that a survey of 3,000 British Muslims had found that 43 per cent of them believed that parts of Sharia Law should be enforced in the UK, while 22 per cent opposed the idea. It said that the data had shown that respondents’ views were “very similar” to the rest of the UK population on issues including the NHS, unemployment and immigration, but that there were “stark differences” on the issues of Sharia Law and terrorism. 

3.    The complainant said that the article’s headline was significantly misleading as there was no evidence that Muslims supported the "enforcement" of any aspect of Sharia Law. He said the Policy Exchange report, to which the article referred, indicated that some Muslims supported the introduction of Sharia Law, not enforcement. He said the survey had asked respondents about Sharia Law in its broadest sense, and noted that the Policy Exchange report had said "When asked whether they would support the introduction of Sharia Law – broadly defined, to include civil law on questions of financial disputes – some 43% said they supported this proposition, whereas 22% opposed it (23% neither supported nor opposed), while 12% said they did not know.” He said the report had explicitly stated that the poll had indicated that the nature of the support for Sharia Law was “soft”. 

4.    The newspaper said that the headline had accurately reported the findings of the poll. The word “enforced” had meant “to give force to” or “to impose”; it was not inaccurate or misleading to use this word in relation to a poll that had found that 43 per cent of Muslims questioned “supported the introduction” of Sharia Law. 

Relevant Code provisions 

5.    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 


6.    The Committee noted that the Policy Exchange report had stated that the poll had found that support for Sharia Law was “quite ‘soft’” meaning that while many respondents expressed a preference for Sharia Law in the abstract, support had proven to be “far less robust” when respondents were presented with the details in practice. Nevertheless, 43 per cent of the poll’s respondents had said that they “supported the introduction” of some aspects of Sharia Law into the UK. The Committee did not consider that there was a significant distinction between the introduction of a system of law and its enforcement. As such, it was not significantly misleading for the newspaper to have used the word “enforced”. It had also taken care to make clear that the support expressed by respondents related to “particular aspects” of Sharia Law. 


7.    There was no failure to take care over the accuracy of the article in breach of Clause 1(i). The Committee did not identify any significant inaccuracies or misleading statements which would require correction under the Code.

 

Conclusion 


8.    The complaint was not upheld.


Remedial action required


N/A

 

Date complaint received: 07/12/2016

Date decision issued: 02/02/2017