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  1. Media Law
June 26, 2017

Brighton Argus story about rough sleeper evictions inaccurate says IPSO

By Zainab Mahmood

Brighton’s Argus newspaper breached the Editors’ Code with a story which claimed the local council evicted homeless people from tents on New Year’s Day.

Brighton and Hove City Council complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the story was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 of the code.

The article headlined “Council ‘inhumane’ to tent dwellers” was published on 9 January 2017.

The front-page story accused the council of inhumanely evicting rough sleepers from their tents into “freezing weather” on New Year’s Day.

The council said the Argus inaccurately reported that it gave the rough sleepers ten minutes to remove their belongings and relocate themselves. It said the report was based on hearsay and that the eviction did not occur.

It said that while the newspaper had asked it to comment on the allegation it had been given insufficient time to check the allegation.

IPSO said: “The complainant requested the removal of the article from the newspaper’s website. It also requested a prominent correction in print and online, which would state that the events reported had not happened; that no one had been evicted from their tents by the council in the early hours of the morning; that the council did not move people on without notice and support; that people’s possessions were not taken to be dumped by the council; and that the council was not given the details of the allegations when asked for comment.”

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The correction published in print and online said: “On Monday, January 9, we reported that Brighton and Hove City Council turfed homeless people out of their tents on New Year’s Day. We asked the council to provide us with a statement on the allegations which they did. However, since publication the council has informed us that the events reported did not happen. The city council does accept, however, that it evicts rough sleepers from their tents on occasion. We are happy to report that the council states it does this in an appropriate and supportive way.”

The council argued that the correction misled readers into thinking it was fully aware of the allegation.

IPSO ruled that the Argus article breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code.

IPSO concluded the complaint on 22 May calling for a further correction: “This correction should appear on page two of the newspaper, and at the top of the article as it appears online. The correction should state that it has been published following an upheld ruling by the Independent Press Standards Organisation, and it should make clear the complainant’s denial of the specific allegations made in the article. The full wording should be agreed with IPSO in advance.”

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