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IPSO requires front-page reference to complaint

In a decision published today, IPSO upheld a complaint about an article headlined “Labour’s £1,000 tax on families” published by the Times on 24 April 2015, and required the newspaper to republish its correction with a reference on the front page.

The complaint related to the accuracy of the headline, and also the claim in the opening sentence of the article that “Ed Miliband would saddle every working family with extra taxes equivalent to more than £1,000”. The newspaper accepted that the passages were inaccurate and published a correction in its Corrections and Clarifications column, on its Letters page, on 2 May, as well as amending the online article and adding the correction as a footnote.

The complainant was satisfied with the text of the correction, but not with its prominence and asked IPSO to consider the matter. IPSO’s Complaints Committee acknowledged that the newspaper had acted in good faith, attempting to remedy the inaccuracy in a way which it believed complied with the terms of the Code, and ensuring publication prior to the imminent General Election. However, the Committee determined that this correction was not duly prominent and therefore required the republication of the correction with a front-page cross-reference in order to remedy the breach of the Code. It appears in today’s edition of the newspaper.

Matt Tee, Chief Executive of IPSO, said: “There are circumstances in which front-page prominence is required by the Editors’ Code, regardless of the existence of an established Corrections and Clarifications column. Today’s decision is the first time IPSO has invoked its new rules to compel a national publication to reference a correction on its front page. In assessing the requirement for “due prominence,” the Committee took into account both the prominence of the original article and the seriousness of the breach, and ruled that prominence of the correction was not sufficient and therefore the requirements of Clause 1 (ii) of the Code had not been met.”

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 – in this case, relating to the issue of due prominence. We will continue to do this to assist not just complainants, but also journalists and editors seeking guidance on the Editors’ Code.”