Ruling

14422-16 Versi v The Sun

    • Date complaint received

      23rd February 2017

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Decision of the Complaints Committee 14422-16 Versi v The Sun  

Summary of complaint 

1.    Miqdaad Versi complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Sun breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “We’re kind, Gary, but we hate being conned”, published on 24 October 2016. 

2.    The article formed part of a larger comment piece in which the columnist, Trevor Kavanagh, discussed the migrant camp in Calais and his concern that refugees were lying about their age in order to gain access to Britain. In this item, the columnist commented on Fatima Manji’s complaint that Kelvin MacKenzie had discriminated against her in an article about her wearing a hijab while presenting news coverage of the Nice terror attack. The columnist said “nobody seeing [Ms Manji] in full Muslim headdress could doubt it was provocative of Channel 4”, and that Ms Manji had “singled herself out by dressing as she did”. He quoted Ms Manji who had said “I do wear the headscarf as a symbol of my religious faith”, and concluded with the line “She knew precisely what she was doing”. 

3.    This item was also published online under the headline “Kelvin’s Channel 4 battle”. 

4.    The complainant expressed concern that the article had given the misleading impression that Channel 4 had chosen Ms Manji to present the news on the day in question in order to be “provocative”. In fact, she had been rostered to do so ten days before the attack in Nice. In addition, he said the columnist had inaccurately asserted that Ms Manji had “singled herself out” by wearing her headscarf. He said she had stated publicly that she always wore a headscarf and had not done so on this occasion to provoke a reaction. 

5.    The newspaper considered that the complainant’s concerns related to comments which clearly represented the columnist’s opinion. It noted that IPSO had already adjudicated on and not upheld the complaint from Ms Manji to which the comment piece referred. 

6.    The newspaper did not consider that the article had implied that Channel 4 had intentionally chosen Ms Manji to present the news that day. It said that the columnist had known that she had been rostered on 10 days earlier. 

7.    The newspaper said that the article had expressed the columnist’s view that as Ms Manji’s choice of garment was personal and deliberate, she had “singled herself out”. It said that it had accurately quoted Ms Manji who had said that she wore the headscarf “as a symbol of [her] religious faith”; it was therefore a “conscious act”, and the columnist had simply drawn an inference from it. It said that as the columnist was not Ms Manji, his opinion was clearly nothing other than conjecture about her motivation; he had not made a statement of fact. 

Relevant Code provisions 

8.    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 

9.    The assertion that “nobody seeing [Ms Manji] in full Muslim headdress could doubt it was provocative of Channel 4” had clearly represented the columnist’s view of those with editorial responsibility for the programme; it was not a statement of fact. 

10. The columnist had quoted Ms Manji stating “I do wear the headscarf as a symbol of my religious faith”. The Committee considered that the statements that she had “singled herself out” and had known “precisely what she was doing” related to the columnist’s view that she had known that she was making a religious statement by wearing the hijab based on her public comment that she wore the headscarf as a symbol of her religious faith. The columnist had not made the factual assertion that she had worn the hijab to be provocative; this was criticism levelled at Channel 4. 

11. There was no failure to take care over the accuracy of the article. The Committee did not identify any significant inaccuracies or misleading statements which would require correction under the Code. 

Conclusion 

12. The complaint was not upheld. 

Remedial action required

N/A

Note 

Trevor Kavanagh is a member of IPSO’s Board. The Board has no role in the consideration of individual complaints, which are adjudicated on by the Complaints Committee. Mr Kavanagh played no part in the consideration of this complaint. 

Date complaint received: 28/10/2016 

Date decision issued: 02/02/2017


Statement by IPSO's Board

The Complaints Committee of the Independent Press Standards Organisation reached a decision on the above complaint in accordance with its role in ruling on complaints framed under the Editors’ Code of Practice. IPSO’s Board chose not to comment further on this matter while the complaint was on-going. 

Following the conclusion of the complaint, IPSO’s Board has issued the following statement:

IPSO is committed to ensuring that individuals who believe that they have been wronged by the press are able to seek proper redress without fear of retribution or victimisation. In this instance, public comments by an IPSO Board member brought the strength of this commitment into question. This should not have happened. The Board has received an apology from the Board member and an assurance that it will not happen again.