The Daily Telegraph breached the Editors’ Code with a headline which suggested a gipsy camp drove a couple to commit suicide.
The Independent Press Standards Organisation said that the headline was not supported by the evidence.
It is the seventh upheld IPSO complaint against The Daily Telegraph since the new press regulator was established just over a year ago (more than any other title).
Mike Doherty of the Traveller Movement complained over an online article headlined “Retired couple carry out suicide pact after travellers move in next door”, published on 8 April 2015. He also complained about the print version of the article, headlined “Gipsy camp stress ‘drove couple to suicide pact’”, published on 9 April 2015.
The articles reported the inquest into the deaths of John and Elizabeth Knott. Mr Knott had killed his wife before taking his own life.
Both articles reported that, prior to his death, Mr Knott had been concerned about a planning application to establish a site for a traveller family on a field close to his home.
The IPSO committee reviewed a transcript of the inquest proceedings and it found that the print headline was “not an accurate summary of any evidence heard during proceedings”.
It said: “The committee noted the newspaper’s position that the use of single quotation marks was a journalistic convention, to denote the paraphrasing of an allegation, and accepted that the meaning of quotation marks can vary according to context, and is therefore open to interpretation.
“However, the headline was not supported by evidence heard at the inquest, in whole or by any individual; the inquest had not heard or found that Mr Knott’s concern about the camp had been the cause of his death (rather than a contributing factor).
“The headline was significantly inaccurate and breached Clause 1.”
It said that the headline must now be corrected to avoid a breach and ordered the Telegraph to publish a correction, “which should make clear that the quotation in the print headline was not a summary of evidence heard at the inquest”.
“In addition, the correction should acknowledge that it had been published following a ruling by the Independent Press Standards Organisation. “