Sunday, September 21 2014

Press Complaints Commission


Where newspapers are found to be in breach of the Editors' Code of Practice, and have not resolved a complaint made by an individual to the newspaper itself, individuals can make a complaint to the PCC and request that the PCC adjudicate and resolve the matter.

The complainant would have to refer to the Code of Practice and state what part of it has been breached by the newspaper. The PCC require letters to be sent within two months of the date of publication (though this does not apply if the story is still on the newspaper online).

When writing to the PCC remember to include a cutting of the entire article and note clearly the name of the publication and the date on which the article was published.

Send your letters to:

Press Complaints Commission
Halton House
20/23 Holborn
London EC1N 2JD

Examples of Muslims that have successfully challenged newspapers on their misrepresentation of facts, organisations or personalities through the PCC are detailed below.

Complainant Name: Muslim Council of Britain

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: The Sunday Telegraph

 

Complaint:

Mr Muhammed Rafi, the Executive Director of the Muslim Council of Britain, complained that the article had inaccurately reported its position on English-speaking Imams. He said that the article also mischaracterised the comments made by the Secretary General of the MCB to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Tackling Terrorism.

 

Resolution:

The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published the following correction:

 

“Further to our article of 23rd July, we have been asked to make clear that Dr Bari of the Muslim Council of Britain did not say that he “did not recognise the problem of non-English speaking imams” and did not “defend all-male mosques” in his evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Tackling Terrorism. Dr Bari made clear that young people needed to be engaged by imams communicating in English, and that it was against the law not to allow women into certain mosques. The MCB has indicated that it wholeheartedly supports English-speaking imams”.

 

Complainant Name: British Muslim Initiative and North London Central Mosque

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: The Sun

 

Complaint:

The British Muslim Initiative and North London Central Mosque raised concerns that an article which reported on a Policy Exchange investigation into material sold at British mosques was misleading. The complainants emphasised that a subsequent Newsnight investigation had challenged the findings of the report, suggesting that it was partially based on forged evidence.

 

Resolution:

The complaint was resolved when the newspaper removed the article from its website and published the following letter:

 

‘Your article ‘Books of hatred at mosques’ (October 30) was taken from an inaccurate report by Policy Exchange based on forged evidence. The report sought to unfairly tarnish the reputations of British mosques, many of which have long been at the forefront of promoting community cohesion and empowering local people.

 

Complainant Name: Mr Massoud Shadjareh

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: The Sunday Times

 

Complaint:

Mr Massoud Shadjareh, the Chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, complained that a columnist had inaccurately claimed that he had drawn “moral equivalents between Muslims in Guantanamo Bay and the fate of Gillian Gibbons” when he was interviewed on the Today programme.

 

Resolution:

The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published the following apology:

 

“Shiraz Maher (A Failure to Confront Radical Islam, December 2) stated that Massoud Shadjareh, the chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, ‘began drawing moral equivalents between Muslims in Guantanamo Bay and the fate of Gillian Gibbons when he appeared on the Today programme.’ In fact, Mr. Shadjareh did not make any such comparisons with regard to Gillian Gibbons’ case. He condemned her treatment outright. We apologise to him for the error.”

 

Complainant Name: Mr Sharif Nashashibi

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: The Times

 

Complaint:

Mr Sharif Nashashibi of Arab Media Watch complained that an article had inaccurately described Israel’s security barrier as running “along the boundary” with the West Bank. He pointed out that 80-90% of the barrier lay inside Palestinian territory and if it were to run along the West Bank boundary it would not be the subject of such condemnation.

 

Resolution:

The newspaper sought to explain that the brief reference under dispute was descriptive shorthand used in an article about a separate issue. However, the newspaper accepted that had there been more space, it would have been more accurate to state “along and inside the boundary with the West Bank”. The newspaper agreed to make this amendment to the online version of the article and to annotate its internal database records. The complaint was resolved on this basis.

 

Complainant Name: Brixton Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: Evening Standard

 

Complaint:

AbdulHaq Addae, Media Liaison at Brixton Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre, complained that an article about Sheikh Abdullah El-Faisal was inaccurate when it referred to him as the “Brixton Mosque preacher”.

 

Resolution:

The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published the following clarification:

‘Our article of 12 April “Jailed preacher of hate in court battle to stay in Britain” referred to Sheikh Abdullah El-Faisal as the “Brixton Mosque preacher”. El-Faisal only preached at Brixton Mosque in the early 1990s and not after the current administration was elected in 1994’.

 

Complainant Name: Mr Imran Ahmed

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: The Sun

 

Complaint:

Mr Imran Ahmed of Huddersfield complained that an article in the newspaper was inaccurate when it claimed that Muslim yobs had wrecked a house intended for soldiers returning from Afghanistan.

 

Resolution:

The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published the following correction setting out the true position:

 

BARRACK  ATTACK

Following our report ‘ Hounded out’ about a soldiers’ home in Datchet, Berks, being vandalised by Muslims, we have been asked to point out no threatening calls were logged at Combermere Barracks from Muslims and police have been unable to establish if any faith or religious group was responsible for the incident. We are happy to make this clear.

 

Complainant Name: Mr Shiraz Mahmood

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: Metro

 

Complaint:
Mr Shiraz Mahmood complained that an article – and its headline – was misleading when it stated that imams who carried out forced marriages could be charged with a criminal offence under new legislative proposals.

 

Resolution:
The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published a statement which made clear that the threat of legal action would apply to all faiths.

 

Complainant Name:
Mr Samir El-Atar, Managing Director of Dar Al-Taqwa bookshop

Clauses Noted: 1, 2

Publication: Evening Standard

Complaint:
Mr Samir El-Atar, Managing Director of Dar Al-Taqwa bookshop, complained to the Press Complaints Commission that an article headlined “Terror and hatred for sale just yards from Baker Street”, published in the Evening Standard on 28 July 2005, was inaccurate and misleading in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) and that he had been denied an opportunity to reply under Clause 2 (Opportunity to reply) of the Code.

The complaint was upheld.

The article focused on allegedly extremist literature which was on sale in Islamic bookshops in the aftermath of the London bombings. The complainant’s bookshop featured prominently in a photograph, alongside pictures of three of the titles that the newspaper said advocated terrorism and which were said to be sold at premises “such as Dar Al-Taqwa”. The complainant made clear that the shop had never stocked the books or the DVD pictured. The article was therefore misleading since it led people to believe that the shop sought to promote and incite terrorism. Moreover, the newspaper had quoted selectively from a pamphlet on jihad which was on sale in the bookshop. The complainant said that this pamphlet did not incite terror or hatred as the article alleged. As a result of the article, abuse and threats of violence had been made against staff and it had been necessary to invoke police protection.

The newspaper referred to an earlier article in The Times, in which the bookshop was said to be selling extremist literature. Its own article had quoted the shop’s manager making clear his position that the shop sold mainstream literature. It had also subsequently published a clarification – without the complainant’s approval – which outlined that the books and DVDs pictured had never been for sale at Dar Al-Taqwa. The newspaper also offered to publish an abridged letter from the complainant or his representative together with an editorial footnote which apologised for any misunderstanding. The complainant was unhappy with the remedial action both taken and offered by the newspaper.

Decision: Upheld

Adjudication:
Clause 1 requires newspapers to ‘take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading, or distorted information’. In this case – given the seriousness of the allegations and the sensitive time at which they were published, shortly after the terrorist attacks – there was an over-riding need to ensure that the information gathered by the paper was accurately presented.

While the newspaper was doubtless acting in the public interest when researching the article, it had subsequently conceded that the books and DVDs pictured prominently in the piece were not sold in the shop. Although there was no dispute that the pamphlet quoted in the article was sold by the bookshop, the Commission concluded that the pamphlet provided insufficient corroboration to support the extremely serious claims contained in the headline. Sufficient care had not therefore been taken by the newspaper over the accuracy of the story. In upholding the complaint the Commission was mindful that, in the climate of anxiety following the attacks, the consequences of the misleading allegations – particularly given the fact that the shop’s contact details had been prominently displayed – could have been extremely serious for the complainant. It did not in these circumstances consider that the offered remedies were adequate to resolve what was a clear breach of Clause 1. There was also therefore a breach of Clause 2 of the Code.

The complainant also had objected to the publication of the photograph of the shop in which its telephone and fax number were clearly displayed. He considered that this was intrusive in breach of Clause 3 of the Code. As previously stated, the Commission decided that publication of the shop’s telephone number in the context of the piece was likely to cause serious difficulties. The Commission, however, did not consider that the publication of a shop-front represented a failure to respect the private life of the complainant. The photographs did not contain private information and there was therefore no breach of Clause 3 on this point.









Last Updated on Thursday, 20 January 2011 16:59

Add comment

Engage does not accept any responsibility for the statements, comments or opinions of individuals posted in the comments section of our website. All opinions expressed therein are the sole responsibility of the individual writers. While the comments page does not represent our views, we reserve the right not to publish specific comments that may be submitted to us, as well as to edit those that may fall short of parameters acceptable to us.


Security code
Refresh

Engage Publications



Books of Interest