The article reported the contents of a leaked Government memorandum which claimed to report details of a private meeting between the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, and the French Ambassador, Sylvie Bermann. The complainant said that the claims contained in the memo and repeated in the article were categorically untrue and regarded the newspaper’s decision not contact Ms Sturgeon for comment as a breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code.
IPSO’s Complaints Committee judged that, while the newspaper was entitled to report on the memorandum, it had published its contents as facts without taking additional steps prior to publication – such as contacting the parties involved for their comment – to verify their accuracy. As a result, the article was significantly misleading. The Committee upheld the complaint under Clause 1 (i) and (ii) and required The Daily Telegraph to publish the adjudication on page 2 of the newspaper with a front-page reference, and online.
Matt Tee, Chief Executive of IPSO, said: “Clause 1 of the Editors’ Code obliges the press to take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information. This article was significantly misleading because the newspaper had failed to make clear that it did not know whether the account the memorandum presented was true. A front-page story such as this needs to be corrected in a prominent way and we have required the Daily Telegraph to publish our adjudication in full on page 2 with a reference on the front page of the newspaper, which it did today.”
Mr Tee added: “IPSO’s policy when dealing with complaints that have generated significant public or group interest is to lay out a clear account of our process and findings. We will continue to do this to assist not just complainants, but also journalists and editors seeking guidance on the Editors’ Code.”
The full decision is available here.