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IPSO rules Mail Online’s Pakistan Covid headline “misleading” after CfMM complaint

Publication

Mail Online

Title

Pakistan was the origin for HALF for Britain’s imported coronavirus cases – amid calls for tougher quarantine checks from ‘high-risk’ countries

Date

27 June 2020

Five months after the Centre for Media Monitoring launched a complaint against Mail Online’s inaccurate headline, which claimed that thirty Covid-19 cases from Pakistan were “HALF” of all of Britain’s imported cases, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) has found the claims to be “misleading” and in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the IPSO Editors Code.

The Centre for Media Monitoring also argued that the article was racist by singling out Pakistanis and blaming Pakistanis for importing the virus, which in reality, only referred 30 cases in the short period between 4 and 27 June. However IPSO made no ruling on our allegation of racism against the newspaper as it “fell outside the parameters of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code.” 

The Mail Online still refused to accept wrongdoing and claim responsibility for misleading its readers, stating that the accurate date period had been mentioned in the article body. But, following out complaint, IPSO stated that this still breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), which explicitly requires that headline statements should be supported by the text in the article. Faced with mounting pressure, Mail Online changed their headline four days after publication and included a footnote stating: “The headline to this article has been amended since publication to make clear that the number of imported cases of Covid-19 from Pakistan into Britain related to the month of June”.

The Centre for Media Monitoring recognise the positive outcome of our complaint in ensuring that news is accurately reported. However, we believe that Mail Online’s correction hasn’t gone far enough to make clear that the figures came from the period 4 to 27 June rather than June as a whole, that the 30 cases imported were comparatively little to the total UK cases during this period, and the majority of imported cases over the course of this pandemic came from countries other than Pakistan. We also think that Mail Online should apologise for the racism in the original article, and that the correction should be explicitly highlighted at the top of the article, rather than hidden as a footnote at the end.

Read IPSO’s full ruling here: https://www.ipso.co.uk/rulings-and-resolution-statements/ruling/?id=10893-20

Conclusion

Success.

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