A weekly newspaper had to clarify a letter it had published was satirical after a reader complained to the press watchdog about its accuracy.
The Evesham Journal published the clarification about the letter, which was “poking fun” at people who voted for the United Kingdom to remain in the European Union in 2016.
The letter, from leave voter Stanley Carr, of Pershore, argued that there would be several benefits to remaining, including the introduction of National Service, which he said would be good for young people.
The correspondent added that this, and other obligations he said that the EU would require, would “greatly ease the burden on local councils” as “Brussels will plan it all”, meaning leaving the EU was “not all doom and gloom”.
The letter’s publication prompted Michael Haines to complain to the Independent Press Standards Organisation under Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, saying there was no evidence to suggest the EU was planning to introduce National Service.
He said that it was not clear whether the letter was satirical, as several of the claims appeared to be accurate or based on plausible situations.
In response, the Journal said that the letter was clearly satirical and was poking fun at those who voted to remain in the EU.
It added that the claims were plainly outlandish and unrealistic, and thus it was inappropriate to treat them as points of fact.
After IPSO launched an investigation, the Journal offered to publish the following clarification: “The letter by Stanley Parr from Pershore titled ‘Not all gloomy’ and published in the Journal on 7 February contained a number of false claims about EU plans for all member states.
“We believed this letter to be written with a sense of irony and assumed our readers would understand that the false claims were made with tongue firmly in cheek, however, following a reader’s complaint about those assertions, we would like to make it clear that they are indeed not true.”
Mr Haines said this would resolve the matter to his satisfaction, and therefore no determination was made on breach of Code.
The full adjudication can be read here.