OMB. 1859 - Dr William Ralph and the Irish Examiner

By admin
Thursday, 30th May 2024
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The Press Ombudsman has decided not to uphold a complaint made by Dr William Ralph about an article published in the Irish Examiner in February 2024.

The article reports on an event hosted in Leinster House by an independent Senator to discuss the topic “WHO Pandemic Treaty: Know The Facts”. The article introduces the Treaty, then gives accounts of contributions made by some of the speakers. These include a Swiss tax lawyer, an English MP, a German MEP, the complainant, and two other doctors. 

The article includes some biographical background information focussing on political and professional controversies in which some of the speakers have been embroiled. It notes that Dr Ralph told the meeting he and five other doctors faced a fitness to practice inquiry “mainly” because they were “critical of NPHET”*.  The article quotes from some of the speeches given at the meeting. 

The complainant said the article breached Principle 1 (Truth and Accuracy) of the Code of Practice. He said that specifically, it had omitted relevant information.  On his own role in the meeting, he said the Irish Examiner had referred to his preamble but omitted the facts and data about which he spoke.  He said the article was “a prejudiced hit piece pointing out flaws in the bios” of panellists. The complainant accused the publication of “selective and simplistic pruning” of the story, and said it was “pathetic”. 

The Irish Examiner responded that it was unable to find any specific claim in the complaint about what Dr Ralph considered to be an untruthful or inaccurate statement. It said decisions about the content and length of the article were the purview of the publication, and it stood over the article as a “fair summary” of the event.  It said it was apparent that the complainant had been angered by the article but noted that he did not claim that any of the references to the public record of the individuals named in the article were untrue or inaccurate.  It said that while Dr Ralph had considered what was published to be an incomplete record, publications had the right to decide what was relevant to include for its readers’ information and it stood over its editorial decision-making.


Principle 1 of the Code requires publications to strive for truth and accuracy. Dr Ralph  is highly critical of the way the publication has reported on the event, describing it as a “prejudiced hit piece”, but he does not specify any particular significant inaccuracy or misleading statement in the article.   

In relation to the complainant’s own contribution, the publication presents an account of what he said by way of introducing himself to the audience.  He does not assert that this account is inaccurate.  The Press Ombudsman finds there was no obligation to include anything else from his speech.  A news report will rarely give a full account of everything said at a public meeting, and the publication is right to assert that it has editorial discretion in this regard.

The complainant states that the report was selective in its presentations of the biographies of the speakers.  He does not assert that the information given is untrue or inaccurate. 

While a report may in some instances be distorted through selectivity and omission, the Press Ombudsman finds that this is not so in this instance.  She considers that the publication has researched the public records of the speakers in an appropriate way.  She finds that the information given is relevant in contextualising for readers the contributions made by these individuals to a meeting which was presented as providing the facts about an important matter.    There is no breach of Principle 1.

*National Public Health Emergency Team

2 May 2024