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Daily issues correction after complaint about legal row involving councillor

NewIPSOA regional daily issued a correction after a man complained about its coverage of his legal row with a councillor.

Asaf Khan complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation after the Birmingham Mail reported on a legal dispute between him and a Birmingham City Council member.

The article reported that in February 2018 the council’s independent standards board concluded an investigation into the conduct of the councillor triggered by his handling of a controversial row over a schoolgirl relative wearing a hijab.

The Mail further reported the inquiry had also looked at “historical speculation” and ruled there was “no case to answer”.

Complaining under Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, Mr Khan said the statement that the “inquiry also looked at ‘historical speculation’” was inaccurate because the independent investigation had been focused on a single matter of complaint in relation to the use of social media, and had not addressed historic allegations against the councillor.

He also said the claim that the inquiry “ruled there was ‘no case to answer’” was inaccurate as it had actually found there to be a breach of contract in relation to the use of social media.

Mr Khan told IPS this was confirmed by extracts from the independent report and its terms of reference, both of which he had obtained via a Freedom of Information request, as well as by council minutes published in February 2020.

In response, the Mail said that it had not had access to these documents at the time the article was published and added it had been widely reported in 2017 that the councillor had requested a review into all current and historical speculation.

Despite this, it amended the article in light of the new information contained in the council minutes published in February 2020 and also published a footnote clarification.

Mr Khan did not accept this offer as it did not address the allegedly inaccurate claim that the inquiry “ruled there was ‘no case to answer’”.

However, during IPSO’s investigation the Mail issued a further correction on this point, resolving the matter to Mr Khan’s satisfaction.

The full resolution statement can be read here.