16946-23 Meacham v

    • Date complaint received

      22nd June 2023

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Decision of the Complaints Committee – 16946-23 Meacham v


Summary of Complaint

1. Zara Meacham complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Big changes will allow child from any school to join Canterbury Cathedral choirs”, published on 13 February 2023.

2. The article reported on a change of rules which meant that male chorists “no longer ha[d] to attend an exclusive boarding school to join a prestigious Canterbury Cathedral choir”. It stated that “Since 1971, £12,500-a-year independent St Edmund's educated the young male singers aged between eight and 13 - who are each given partial scholarships” but that compulsory boarding was no longer a requirement and that students could be drawn from a variety of nearby schools.

3. The complainant said that the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1. She said that the cathedral had previously recruited boys by holding auditions at both state and private schools and had accepted children who had attended state primary schools. She also set out concerns she had about the new policy.

4. The publication did not accept a breach of the Code, but it apologised if there was a lack of clarity in its article. It stated that the meaning of the article was that male choristers would no longer have to attend a specific private school – and instead could study at other institutions whilst being a member of the choir. Whilst it did not accept that the article was inaccurate, it offered the complainant the opportunity to set out her concerns about the change in policy as a published letter in the newspaper.

5. The complainant did not accept the offer of writing as a letter as a resolution to her complaint.

Relevant Clause Provisions

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 article made clear that male chorists, since 1971, had to attend a specific private school as boarding students in order to participate in the choir – and that only partial scholarships were available to them. It made no comment on whether the children had needed to attend private schools prior to joining the choir. On this basis, where the article set out the previous rules about eligibility to join the choir and what the change in rules meant, it was not inaccurate and there was no breach of Clause 1.


7. The complaint was not upheld.

Remedial action required

8. N/A 


Date complaint received:  02/03/2023

Date complaint concluded by IPSO:  05/06/2023