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Regional sister titles rapped for copying national tabloid’s inaccuracy

The press watchdog has rapped two regional sister titles which reproduced an inaccuracy originally published by a national newspaper.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation has upheld complaints against Lancs Live and the Manchester Evening News after they inaccurately reported Care 4 Children had won “£8.8 million worth of contracts from Darlington Borough Council to provide residential children’s homes services”.

The inaccuracy had originally appeared in a Daily Mirror investigation which reported C4C staff were grooming children to sell drugs, and the tabloid was also censured by IPSO on this point.

The coverage by the three Reach plc-owned titles prompted complaints to the watchdog by C4C founder and boss Kamran Abassi.

The Mirror splashed on the original story

The Mirror splashed on the original story

In his complaints, Mr Abassi claimed the three titles had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy), Clause 10 (Clandestine devices and subterfuge), Clause 12 (Discrimination), Clause 15 (Witness payments in criminal trials) and Clause 16 (Payments to criminals) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

Contrary to a claim made in the stories, he said C4C had not won “£8.8m worth of contracts with Darlington Borough Council” to provide children’s homes services.

Mr Abassi said the organisation had won only part of this particular contract, shared between 17 providers and five local authorities.

This was part of a multiple awardees contract as shown by the tender that was publicly available online, he added.

In response, both Lancs Live and the MEN accepted it was inaccurate to report that C4C had won £8.8m worth of contracts with Darlington Borough Council, amending the text of their stories and publishing a footnote correction to record this.

However, they did not accept the inaccuracy was significant given that C4C had won part of the contract from the council.

IPSO noted it was clear that a newspaper’s obligations under the Editors’ Code extends to all editorial content it publishes, including material obtained from sister publications.

It found the statement complained of to be a significant inaccuracy because it misrepresented the allocation of public money to private companies for the provision of care.

However, a number of other claims made by Mr Abassi were dismissed by IPSO.

The complaints were upheld, and the full adjudications can be read here.