Ruling

Resolution Statement 16904-17 Molloy v The Daily Telegraph

    • Date complaint received

      12th October 2017

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement 16904-17 Molloy v The Daily Telegraph

1. Anthony Molloy, on behalf of the Labour Land Campaign (LLC), complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Daily Telegraph breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Tax on homes ‘to treble under Labour plans for Land Value Tax’”, published online on 29 May 2017.

2. The article reported that the Labour party manifesto for the 2017 general election had outlined that the party would consider introducing a Land Value Tax (LVT), and reported claims that “council tax bills would treble for middle-class homeowners” under the proposals. The article also reported that the policy has been driven by the LLC, a working group praised by Jeremy Corbyn, and that the LLC proposed to introduce LVT at a “standard rate” of 3 per cent of the value of land, which would be applied to 55 per cent of a home’s value.

3. The complainant said that the article had misquoted the LLC research paper, which stated that the average rate of LVT would be set at approximately 0.85 per cent of capital value. The complainant said that this research paper was in draft format and did not represent official LLC policy, noting that the LLC has no official policy on the implementation of LVT. He also said that the article gave the misleading impression that the Labour party and the LLC were affiliated, because it appeared to associate LLC research figures with Labour party policy.

4. The newspaper said that the article was an accurate report of the LLC research paper, which had stated that the discounted rate of 0.85 per cent would last for only a transitional period of ten to twenty years, following which the standard rate of 3 per cent would apply. The newspaper said that the LLC research paper was written by two senior members within the organisation, therefore the newspaper was of the belief that it was an accurate reflection of LLC policy.

5. The newspaper said that it was accurate to report that the Labour party manifesto contained plans for a LVT, a policy which has been driven by the LLC, and said that this did not give the impression that the LLC and Labour party are affiliated.

Relevant Code provisions

6. 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.

Mediated outcome

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

8. Following IPSO’s intervention, the newspaper offered to publish the following clarification as a footnote to the online article:

“Further to publication of this article, we have been asked to point out that the land value tax proposals by the Labour Land Campaign (LLC) appeared in a draft document that is not LLC policy, and suggested an introductory rate of 0.85% of land value, only rising to 3% later. We would further clarify that the document is one of many proposals as to how a land value tax could be advantageously implemented to replace unfair, economically inefficient taxes, that the Labour Land Campaign is not affiliated to the Labour Party and that its research does not inform Labour Party policy”.

9. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to his satisfaction.

10. As the complaint was successfully mediated, the Complaints Committee did not make a determination as to whether there had been any breach of the Code.

Date complaint received: 17/07/2017
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 29/09/2017