Press regulator IMPRESS has partially upheld a complaint about an article published by this blog. It is, put frankly, deeply perverse. However, as the SKWAWKBOX believes the UK needs independent, Leveson-compliant press regulation, the wording required by the adjudication is shown below:
Correction of article published on THE SKWAWKBOX, 6 August 2018:
In an article first published on 6 August 2018 under the headline “EXCL: TIMES’ STAR WITNESS FOR WIRRAL ‘MILITANT’ BULLYING STORY – WASN’T PRESENT”, the SKWAWKBOX had implied that the Sunday Times had falsely claimed that Moira McLaughlin was an eyewitness to an incident of alleged bullying of two female campaigners by a male councillor, which may have resulted in some readers believing Ms McLaughlin had herself lied or been disingenuous when speaking to the Sunday Times. In fact, neither the Sunday Times nor Moira McLaughlin had claimed that Moira McLaughlin was an eyewitness to the incident.
In doing so, the article had misrepresented and/or distorted the facts, which led to a breach of Code Clause 1.4 (Accuracy) of the IMPRESS Standards Code. Click here to read the full adjudication by IMPRESS.
The adjudication states explicitly:
The Committee accepts that the article does not state that the Complainant claimed to have been present at the alleged incident.Impress adjudication 173/2018
It also claimed that the Times article did not claim Ms McLaughlin had witnessed the events in Wirral and that McLaughlin had ‘merely commented on the alleged incident’.
However, this is factually false. The Times article in question – shown as a screen-capture in the SKWAWKBOX article about it – starts by using McLaughlin as a primary witness that the incident took place at all:
A senior Labour councillor says a recent canvassing session in the town had to be abandoned.The Times
This is far more than ‘merely commenting’. The Times uses McLaughlin’s description of events as primary support for its claim that they happened – in the very first line of the article.
Moira McLaughlin may or may not have presented herself to the Times as an eyewitness. The SKWAWKBOX has no opinion on that issue and its article did not claim that she did. It criticised the Times for presenting her second-hand comments as if she had witnessed them – which it clearly did. The SKWAWKBOX evidence that she did not witness them has not been challenged.
Every word of the article was accurate and this blog stands by it. But IMPRESS has judged that an article that is entirely accurate was misleading.
The UK needs IMPRESS and its findings have been published as required – but IMPRESS needs to up its game.
The full adjudication can be read here.
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