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A screenshot of the new, updated headline for the Guardian's Nov. 18 report on Mark Duggan. (Credit: The Guardian, screenshot)

The UK police and UK Independent Police Complaints Commission complained to the UK print regulatory body the Press Complaints Commission over a November 18, 2011 Guardian report on “the investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission into the death of Mark Duggan,” according to the PCC’s report.

The police and police commission argued that the guardian’s headline and subheadline were “misleading.”  The headline and subheadline originally  read:
“Revealed: man whose shooting triggered riots was not armed; Mark Duggan investigation finds he was not carrying gun when killed in Tottenham.”

The PCC noted that the Guardian updated its subheadline after the IPCC complained and later published a Nov. 28 correction, updated the story and ran a “column by its independent Readers’ Editor.”  The correction noted that “it is wrong to infer that Duggan was unarmed” even though he there wasn’t any “forensic evidence” that he “was holding a gun.”

We wrote in November of last year when the readers editor Chris Elliott wrote about the Guardian’s apology and correction.  Elliott wrote that the Guardian “took too long” to respond to the police commission’s complaint.

The PCC found that “the Guardian had failed to take care not to publish inaccurate or misleading information in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy); its view was that the error was “significant and avoidable”. It noted the “over-riding” responsibility that newspapers have to take care over the presentation of stories at particularly sensitive times.”

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But, the PCC didn’t uphold the complaint because the Guardian did correct its story and address the police commission’s concerns.

The PCC’s adjudication noted that precedent PCC cases have found that complaints about headlines have to be reviewed in context with the story.

We wrote to the IPCC asking if it had any comment about the ruling.  IPCC regional communications officer Ian Christon told iMediaEthics by e-mail that “The IPCC would like to thank the Press Complaints Commission for giving this matter its serious consideration and we are satisfied with the outcome.”

We asked the Guardian if it had any response to the ruling. A Guardian News & Media spokesperson told iMediaEthics by e-mail: “We welcome the PCC’s conclusion that we took the appropriate steps and offered sufficient remedy, including amendments to the article, a correction and a column by the readers’ editor, and we note that the complaints were not upheld.”

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PCC Doesn’t Uphold UK Police Complaint over Guardian Headline

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