Myers and The Irish Times
The Press Council has decided to partially uphold a complaint by Mr. Kevin Myers about The Irish Times.
Mr Kevin Myers complained about an article published in the Irish Times on 18 October 2008 entitled “Press Council upholds complaint against Myers article”. Mr Myers complained that the article breached Principle 1 (Truth and Accuracy) of the Code of Practice for Newspapers and Periodicals, in that the manner in which a previous decision of the Press Council of Ireland was presented did not strive for truth and accuracy. Mr Myers also complained that the article breached Principle 3.1 of the Code (Fairness and Honesty), in that it did not strive for fairness and honesty in the balance of its report and Principle 4 (Respect for Rights) in relation to the complainant’s right to a good name.
The newspaper responded that the article was carefully written and quite precise. It stated that the headline to the article was an accurate summary of the thrust of the article and of the decision of the Press Council. The newspaper argued that because the article was correct in every respect an apology was not warranted. It did, however, offer to frame a clarification to ensure that its readers were left in no doubt about the decision of the Press Council. A draft clarification was submitted to the complainant but was not acceptable to him.
The Press Ombudsman referred the complaint to the Press Council of Ireland for decision as both articles related to a decision of the Press Council.
The complaint of Mr Myers centred on the opening paragraph of the article which stated that “The Press Council of Ireland has upheld a complaint against the Irish Independent that an article by its columnist Kevin Myers breached its Code of Practice relating to incitement to hatred”.
Mr Myers claimed that this summary of the Press Council’s decision not only failed to mention the several complaints that had not been upheld, but gave the impression that the one complaint which was upheld under Principle 8 of the Code of Practice related to incitement to hatred, whereas in fact it related only to that part of the Principle dealing with material “likely to cause grave offence.”
The Council accepted that the summary of the Council’s decision in the opening paragraph of the article was inadequate and likely to create a seriously misleading impression. The clarification of the full scope of the Council’s decision at the end of the article did not compensate for the deficiency of the opening. The Council therefore decided that the report was misleading under Principle 1.2 and had in this respect breached Principle 1 of the Code of Practice.
The Council, however, found no reason to believe that this was other than inadvertent, and therefore decided that there were no adequate grounds for finding that there was any breach of Principle 3 (Fairness and Honesty) or Principle 4 (Respect for Rights).
27 March 2009