Ruling

Satisfactory Remedy – 20464-23 Garland v Cambrian News

    • Date complaint received

      16th November 2023

    • Outcome

      Resolved - satisfactory remedy

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Satisfactory Remedy – 20464-23 Garland v Cambrian News


Summary of Complaint

1. Ed Garland complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Cambrian News breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Why can’t bureaucrats stop interfering in subjects that shouldn’t concern them?”, published on 2 August 2023.

2. The article – which appeared on page 19 of the newspaper, and under the banner “Right Field” – was a column which expressed the writer’s view that governments had failed to properly scrutinise legislation, particularly in relation to education and science. It reported that the former Health Secretary was “apparently well educated, but clearly not bright enough to have understood the Swedish experience (no lockdown and fewer deaths) [and had not] grasped that more young people have died from lockdown induced suicide than from Covid.”

3. A substantially similar version of the article also appeared online under the same headline.

4. The complainant said the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 to report that “more young people have died from lockdown induced suicide than from Covid”. While he accepted that Covid-19 may have exacerbated the risks factors associated with suicidal behaviour, he said there was no evidence to state, as fact, that the rate of suicide, or risking of dying from it, had increased amongst young people due to lockdown.

5. Following the article’s publication, the complainant contacted the newspaper directly with his concerns. On 9 August, and in the next available edition, the newspaper published the letter from the complainant, in which he expressed his view on the matter. This letter stated that the columnist “provide[d] no evidence to support his spurious claim” that more young people died of “lockdown induced suicide” than of Covid, with a recent study – published by a medical journal – demonstrated that “the picture [was] far more complex”, and young people needed better mental health support.

6. On 23 August – and in direct correspondence with the publication – the complainant said the publication of a letter was not an appropriate remedy: a correction was required. In response, on the same day, the newspaper offered to publish a correction to resolve the complaint – an offer to which the complainant did not respond.

7. During IPSO’s investigation, the newspaper said the article was clearly a comment piece, rather than a news article. However, it accepted that the article was inaccurate to report that “more young people have died from lockdown induced suicide than from Covid”. On 21 September, and in its first substantive response during IPSO’s investigation, the publication offered to publish the following correction in its Corrections and Clarifications column, which appeared on its letters page. This wording would also appear online, in the ‘Opinion’ section of its website, where it published readers’ letters and comment pieces:

“In the Right Field column by Patrick Loxdale that appeared in the Cambrian News on 2 August, the writer incorrectly stated that more young people died of "lockdown-induced suicide" than of Covid. Subsequent scientific research indicates that is not the case. The Cambrian News is happy to set the record straight.”

8. In response, the complainant provided alternative wording for the correction, which included an apology, and requested that it appear adjacent to the writer’s next column for the newspaper. In an effort to resolve the matter, the publication said it would publish the wording proposed by the complainant, but maintained that the corrections column was the appropriate location for this item.

9. The complainant did not accept the proposal as a resolution to the 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.

Relevant IPSO Regulations

  • 40. If a Regulated Entity offers a remedial measure to a complainant which the Regulator or, if applicable, the Complaints Committee considers to be a satisfactory resolution of the complaint, but such measure is rejected by the complainant, the Regulator or, if applicable, the Complaints Committee shall notify the complainant of the same and that, subject to fulfilment of the offer by the Regulated Entity, it considers the complaint to be closed and a summary of the outcome shall be published on the Regulator's website.

Outcome

10. IPSO considered whether the actions taken by the publication amounted to a satisfactory remedy of the complaint.

11. The Committee noted that the publication had published the complainant’s letter, which responded to the claim made within the comment piece regarding "lockdown-induced suicide”, and recorded his view that it was inaccurate. The newspaper had also offered to publish a correction, in direct correspondence with the complainant, and then specified the exact wording of this item, upon receipt of the complaint from IPSO. This correction was offered promptly, when considered in conjunction with the letter published in the next edition, and with due prominence, as it would appear in its established corrections and clarification column in print as well as online, in the location where the article had appeared. It also put the correct position on the record: it was incorrect to claim that more young people died of "lockdown-induced suicide" than of Covid.

12. In line with the provisions in Regulation 40 of IPSO’s Regulations; having considered the nature of the complaint and the publication’s remedial actions in response, the Committee concluded that the remedial measures offered by the publication were a satisfactory resolution of the complaint and the complaint would be closed.


Date complaint received: 15/08/2023

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 31/10/2023