Reprinted from The Sun corrections column, 24th February 2017. Original available here.
Following the publication of an article headlined “Trevor Kavanagh: Gary Lineker forgets that we’re not racist – we just don’t like being conned”, Miqdaad Versi complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Sun breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.
IPSO’s Complaints Committee upheld the complaint, and has required The Sun to publish this adjudication online.
The article was a comment piece in which the columnist discussed the migrant camp in Calais and his concern that refugees were lying about their age in order to gain access to Britain. He said that Home Office figures had shown that “two out of three of those elbowing their way to the front of the queue are lying about their age”.
The complainant said two out of three refugees seeking asylum had not been found to have lied about their age, as reported.
In fact, out of 3,472 asylum claims received, 933 individuals had their ages checked, and 636 were found to be adults, which represented 18.3 per cent of the total. While a correction had been published in print, the online article had not been corrected.
The newspaper accepted that an error had been made in relation to Home Office statistics.
Due to an oversight, a correction was not initially published online. When it was alerted to this, a correction was appended to the online article and published in the online Clarifications and Corrections section.
However, the publication did not correct the references to the statistics because it considered it “inappropriate” to amend the columnist’s actual words, and it argued that the correction made the factual position clear.
However, during IPSO’s investigation, it amended the inaccurate references to the Home Office statistics, which had appeared in the subheading, as a caption and in the text.
The Committee considered that the misinterpreted statistics had given a significantly misleading impression of the number of asylum seekers who had incorrectly said they were children in order to gain refuge.
It also represented a central point, which the columnist had relied upon, to support his position that there had been an “abysmal failure” on behalf of the Border Force and immigration authorities to address the issue.
The inaccuracy had been given greater emphasis in the online article as it had been repeated three times, including in the subheading. This represented a failure to take care over the accuracy of the article in breach of Clause 1 (i). A correction was required in order to avoid a breach of Clause 1 (ii).
While the newspaper had promptly corrected the inaccuracy in print, it had failed to do so online. Given that the inaccuracy clearly related to an assertion of fact, the Committee rejected the newspaper’s reasoning for the delay. The newspaper had failed to correct a significant inaccuracy promptly in breach of Clause 1(ii). The complaint under Clause 1 was upheld.
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