The Sun and the Daily Mail have corrected articles which claimed an oprganisation spent £100,000 of public money on days out for refugees.
The Hillingdon Refugee Support Group complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation over reports in the Sun and Daily Mail, claiming they were inaccurate, discriminatory, gained through harassment and didn’t give the group the opportunity to reply.
In both cases, the articles stated that the group had spent £100,000 of public money on trips for members of the group, including going to the seaside and theme parks, accompanied by photos of the group on outings.
The group also said the articles both implied it had spent £500 per night, per person, on a visit to an outdoor education centre when it had in fact paid £460 for the whole group for one night.
The group told IPSO that trips and visits were “only a minor part of the work the charity conducts to support and care for young asylum seekers” and said that the money it had spent on outings and events also included project activities, tutors, workshops counselling and one-to-one support sessions.
As a result of the articles, the group said it had been exposed to “ridicule”.
It further claimed the Sun had given insufficient time to allow for a response to the article’s claims ahead of going to print and that the reporter had been “pushy and insistent” at the door of an employee’s house and returned to put a note through the door after being told to leave, amounting to harassment under clause three of the code.
The Sun denied its article was inaccurate and said that while it had stated the education centre charged £500-a-night, it did not imply this was per person.
The newspaper said the journalist’s visit to the employee’s house was an attempt to obtain a comment on the story prior to publication and that while the conversation was “not particularly good-tempered” the journalist’s efforts could not be perceived as harassment.
The Sun agreed to remove all but one of the photographs alongside the article and to pixelate the face of one of the charity’s clients in the remaining picture. This was to the group’s satisfaction.
The Daily Mail told IPSO it had reviewed the publicly accessible accounts for the group and found it had spent “substantial amounts of money on excursions since 2009 which added up to almost £100,000”.
The newspaper also said its article had not stated that the £500-a-night charge for the outdoor education centre was per person.
It agreed to amend the headline to remove the phrase “£100,000” as a “gesture of goodwill” and also to remove photographs from the article and to request its removal from third party websites who had republished the story without permission.