The Sunday Times pulled an online article about “self-identifying” trans women being allowed to use ladies’ loos at City of London landmarks following a complaint over its accuracy, which was later upheld by IPSO.
The article reported that a proposal from the City of London Corporation would open up women’s toilets to transgender people, “whether or not they have transitioned”, in what it described as a “radical move”.
The article, which was published on 29 July last year, went on to report reactions to the alleged proposal from feminists and others who said the move was “dangerous”.
The story was headlined: “Ladies’ loos at City landmarks may open to trans women.” It also appeared online in the same format.
Amelia Bee complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation under Clause 1 (accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.
She said the article was “misleading” because it suggested trans women were not already legally allowed to use women’s toilets, when in fact their right to do so was protected under the Equality Act.
She said any proposal or consultation by the City of London Corporation could not affect the legal status quo.
Any suggestion by those quoted in the article that the proposal was an “erosion of women’s spaces” was therefore also “misleading”, she said.
Following the complaint, The Sunday Times removed the article from its website and offered to published a standalone clarification online and on its letters page in print.
Bee said the offer was “inadequate” as it did not contain an apology to the transgender community and she was concerned it was not clear that the consultation could not affect rights under the Equality Act.
IPSO’s Complaints Committee upheld the complaint.
It said: “The article’s headline and standfirst had stated that the city’s toilets were not currently open to trans people. The publication had accepted that it had no basis for this claim; there had been a failure to take care over the accuracy of this information…”
The newspaper was told to run its clarification, which IPSO said had been “made with sufficient promptness and prominence” and with “sufficient” wording to correct the misleading impression given by the article.