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Watchdog orders daily to issue correction over ‘racist litter warden’ story

NewIPSOThe press watchdog has ordered a daily newspaper to issue a correction following a complaint about a story in which a litter warden was branded a racist. 

Kevin Williams complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Hull Daily Mail breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy), and Clause 12 (Discrimination) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

In a story headlined “Woman says litter warden was ‘racist’”, the Mail  reported that Hull City Council was conducting an investigation after a litter warden was accused of shouting racist remarks in the street.

Mr Williams said that the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 because he had not been racist, and the incident had not happened as reported.

Mr Williams also said the article breached Clause 1 as the council was not investigating the incident. He explained that he had not been called to the office to describe his version of what happened, and his manager had not been informed of the incident.

Mr Williams said the article also breached Clause 2 as it had included an image of him that had made him identifiable in connection to this incident, despite the fact that the picture was blurred.  Furthermore, Mr Williams said the article also breached Clause 12 because it called him a racist.

The committee agreed that Clause 1 had been breached in relation to the council investigating the incident. Despite the fact that the article said the council would investigate, no investigation took place.

The press watchdog said that a correction should be issued to set out that the council were not investigating the incident. The complaint was partially upheld under Clause 1.

The full ruling can be read here.

Drew Berry complained to the IPSO that Cambs Times breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in a story headlined “Former Mepal Outdoor Centre at forefront of new film”.

The online article reported on fundraising efforts by film makers, Fenland on Film, to produce a film about the Mepal Outdoor Centre “in its heyday”. It reported that the film makers were “compiling footage of the centre in the years it was operational and before it was demolished”.

Mr Berry said that the story was inaccurate and in breach of Clause 1 as the film was not about the centre in its heyday and the production company wasn’t compiling footage as reported. He said the film had been recorded when the centre was closed and weeks before it was demolished. 

Once it became aware of the error, The Times amended the online article. The press watchdog said this was a satisfactory remedy and the complaint was not upheld.

The full ruling can be read here.

James Beswick complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in a story headlined “New Highway Code rule means drivers can be fined £200 for listening to music”.

He argued that it breached the Code because there is no law against listening to music in your car and that it specifically related to using your phone to play music while driving. Mr Beswick was also unhappy with the image used which was a steering wheel with controls to change the music, arguing this was also misleading.

After IPSO began its investigation, the MEN accepted that if the headline was read in isolation, readers would need further clarity on the rule change.

It changed the headline to “Highway Code warning to drivers who stream music in their car” and amended the disputed statement within the article to “People caught using their mobile phone to change the song could be fined up to £200.” It further published a clarification on Facebook and a footnote correction.

It read: “An earlier version of this article included a headline and sentence which may have misled readers about the circumstances in which a driver could be fined when streaming music. The current version has clarified this point.”

Mr Beswick said that this would resolve the matter to his satisfaction.

The full ruling can be read here.