Press Regulator IPSO’s Complaints Committee has found a sub-headline in the Daily Mail, published on 30 September 2020, regarding the draft Road Collision Reporting Guidelines to be inaccurate and therefore in breach of Clause 1 (i) of the Editors’ Code of Practice – and has ruled that the newspaper issue a clarification.
Following draft guidelines author Laura Laker's complaint to IPSO about the article titled ‘You can’t say Lycra Louts – Campaigners call for abuse of cyclists to be made a hate crime’ the Committee ruled the sub-head implying “abuse of cyclists to be made a hate crime” made a clear implication the guidelines were calling for such abuse to be treated as criminal behaviour.
IPSO said in its ruling (Laker v Daily Mail): “This implication was inaccurate – while the guidelines called on publishers to avoid using language which may “incite violence or hatred towards road users”, there was no suggestion within the document that the authors were advocating for new, or a change to existing, legislation on hate crime.
“The Committee was concerned that the publication had inaccurately reported information featured clearly within a publicly accessible proposal that was, at the time of publication, out for consultation. This inaccuracy had featured prominently in the article and as such represented a clear failure by the newspaper not to publish misleading and inaccurate information in breach of Clause 1 (i)”
Following the ruling The Daily Mail has acknowledged this inaccuracy and will make a clarification, which will be published in the newspaper’s correction and clarification column on page 2, and the website, today, before being archived.
This inaccuracy was also repeated by several other outlets on and around 1 October 2020.
Details of the clarification:
The clarification will run: "A sub-headline to an article on September 30 about road collision reporting guidelines said that campaigners had called for abuse of cyclists 'to be made a hate crime'. While campaigners have called for publishers to avoid using language that is likely to cause others to commit acts of violence against cyclists, we are happy to clarify that they had not in fact called for the use of such language to be made a criminal offence.”
The wording will be published in today’s newspaper, and on the Daily Mail’s website, before being archived."
Laura Laker, journalist and co-author of the Guidelines, in collaboration with the Active Travel Academy at the University of Westminster, said: “Myself and the team are delighted IPSO ruled in our favour, following the Daily Mail’s inaccurate coverage of our draft Guidelines consultation last year. The first Road Collision Reporting Guidelines are currently being finalised to help journalists report on road collisions and road danger with accuracy and fairness, two core journalistic principles.
“Research has found the way we discuss issues of public concern, including health and risk, and road safety, shapes public attitudes, as well as influencing how we tackle those issues. We hope that by producing these guidelines, and setting reporting standards via consensus, we can help journalists do what is often a challenging job, and ultimately improve public understanding and the quality of public debate around road safety.”
“Our consultation process was a real success, with input from media, road safety, health and policing, among others, and we have transformed the Guidelines in response to this feedback. We are looking forward to working with media and road safety partners as we launch the Guidelines in May, and to their continued development and improvement over time.”
The way we talk about road collisions matters, something a huge, broadly positive consultation response has affirmed. The consultation was launched 27 September and ran until 8 November 2020. We're currently finalising the Guidelines and will launch them next month, along with our consultation report outlining and analysing those responses, during Global Road Safety Week (17-23 May). Watch this space.
You can read the full IPSO ruling in the attached pdf