Reporting on inaccurate police press release doesn't break accuracy guidelines - iMediaEthics

iMediaEthics publishes international media ethics news stories and investigations into journalism ethics lapses.


Home » Corrections»

A UK news outlet reported on a press release from the police ,but the police release was inaccurate. Does that mean the news outlet broke press guidelines?

No, according to the UK press regulator the Independent Press Standards Organisation. “It was not a failure to take care over the accuracy of the article to rely on the contents of a police press release which had been issued following the complainant’s conviction,” IPSO ruled. “The publication was entitled to rely on the accuracy of information from this official source.”

IPSO noted that “the article had given a significantly misleading impression of the nature and extent of the conduct which had formed the basis for [the complainant’s] conviction,” but dismissed any concern about remedial action since the paper replaced its online article and published a clarification.

The issue came up in a recent ruling concerning the Hackney Gazette. IPSO dismissed the accuracy complaint from Dean Purcell. Purcell was upset because the Hackney Gazette’s April 2018 story about him reported on domestic violence allegations against him and his plea of guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm and assault; he argued the report “presented the allegations about his conduct which the victim had made against him, as though they had been accepted by him as the basis for his guilty plea,” IPSO explained.

The police department admitted its press release had the victim’s allegations but not necessarily information Purcell admitted to when pleading guilty, according to IPSO. The Gazette even replaced its article with an updated version that reflected what was alleged by the victim versus admitted to by Purcell, and posted a clarification in print.

iMediaEthics has written to the Gazette., and attempted to contact Purcell via a personal training website. The Gazette declined to comment to iMediaEthics beyond the ruling.

Hat Tip: Hold the Front Page

UPDATED: 5/28/2019

Submit a tip / Report a problem

Reporting on inaccurate police press release doesn’t break accuracy guidelines

Share this article: