Resolution Statement – 22502-23 Complainant v The Jewish Chronicle

  • Complaint Summary

    A complainant complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Jewish Chronicle breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Why must the Jews watch their backs as London mobs cheer?”, published on 10 November 2023.

    • Date complaint received

      22nd February 2024

    • Outcome

      Resolved - IPSO mediation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Resolution Statement – 22502-23 Complainant v The Jewish Chronicle

Summary of Complaint

1. A complainant complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Jewish Chronicle breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Why must the Jews watch their backs as London mobs cheer?”, published on 10 November 2023.

2. The article, which appeared on page 22 of the newspaper and under the header "LET"s TALK", was a comment piece, which focused on the response, particularly in the media, to the attacks committed by Hamas against Israel on 7 October 2023. Toward the end of the article, it reported that: “As people occupy train stations, attack veterans selling poppies and assault Jews in the streets of our cities, there are those like a senior editor at the Sunday Times, [a named individual], who have described being Jewish in our capital city during a march as “absolutely fine”.

3. The article also appeared online in substantially the same format, under the same headline. This version was published on 24 November 2023.

4. The complainant said that the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 to report, as fact, that there had been attacks on “veterans selling poppies”; they stated that there was no evidence this had occurred. In support of their position, the complainant highlighted statements from the Royal British Legion and the interim director of the Poppy Appeal, neither of which, they said, referred to instances of attacks on poppy sellers. They also referenced a statement from British Transport Police which they said stated: “there was no evidence of poppy sellers being targeted”.

5. The publication did not accept a breach of Clause 1. It stated, first, that the article was a comment piece, in which the author was commenting on reports about the actions of Hamas and the reaction to it – it was not a factual report on alleged attacks on poppy sellers. Further, it stated that, as there were ongoing reports regarding an alleged attack on a poppy seller at Waverley Station in Edinburgh, there was sufficient basis for the statement in the article – it referenced articles from multiple national newspapers to support its point. In any event, the publication also stated that, although charges were not brought in relation to the Waverley Station incident, the allegations were not dropped or proven to be fictitious.

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

7. On 23 November, during IPSO’s investigation, the complainant shared a statement from the British Transport Police, published on 9 November. They said that this statement made clear that there was no evidence of an assault.

“We are aware that misleading information has been circulating in the mainstream media which has understandably led to those who sell poppies being fearful for their safety at train stations.

We want to reiterate that we have no reason to believe that those who sell poppies are at any risk or being intentionally targeted.

After extensive enquiries detectives have found no evidence of any deliberate act of assault at Edinburgh Waverley Railway Station. A man was arrested by BTP for a hate crime which occurred at the station. This offence is unconnected with the current crisis”

8. The publication, in response, maintained that the article was a comment piece – and that the statement under complaint was based on contemporaneous reports. It also added that the complainant had no personal connection to the story, and that the statement from British Transport Police cited by the complainant was published on 9 November – as which time the print version of the article had already gone to print.

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.

Mediated Outcome

9. During IPSO’s investigation, as a gesture of goodwill, the publication offered to resolve the complaint by removing all reference to poppy sellers from the online article, and adding a footnote correction which stated:

“A reference to poppy sellers being attacked has been removed, after the British Transport Police confirmed after publication that they did not consider there was a risk to poppy sellers.”

10. While the complainant welcomed the publication's offer, they also requested an in print correction.

11. In response, the publication offered to also publish a letter from the complainant in print.

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

13. On 23 January, the publication amended the online article and added the footnote correction. On 26 January, on page 24 of the newspaper, the publication also printed a letter from the complainant.

14. 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: 24/11/2023

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 26/01/2024