1712/2023 – Ms Denise Breen and Gript.ie

By admin
Thursday, 11th April 2024
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Appeal to the Press Council

Gript Media appealed the Press Ombudsman’s decision to the Press Council of Ireland on the grounds that there was an error in the Press Ombudsman’s application of Principles 1 (Truth and Accuracy) and 8 (Prejudice) of the Code of Practice.

At its meeting on 3 April 2024 the Press Council considered the appeal on the grounds relied upon and on the information, documentation and submissions made by both parties to the appeal.

Appeal Decision

The Press Council upheld the appeal in part, while also rejecting it in part.

The issues raised are matters of acute public disagreement and controversy. While some are addressed legally, in particular under the Gender Recognition Act, on others there is no settled social consensus.

In regard to Principle 1, the Press Council rejected Gript’s claim that the Press Ombudsman had erred in her application of it in relation to the assertion of ‘organisational capture’. It agreed with her conclusion that describing Ms Breen’s article on the charity’s website as evidence of infiltration or capture by her or others was misleading, given the circumstances as set out by her, and that Gript had not striven for truth and accuracy in this respect. It therefore agreed that the Ombudsman had not erred in her application of Principle 1 of the Code in this respect.

The Press Council upheld Gript’s appeal against the Ombudsman’s decision regarding its description of Ms Breen as biologically male. It took into consideration the fact that the article was an opinion piece, and that the press is entitled to express strong views and opinions on a matter on which there are conflicting opinions. Bearing this in mind, the Press Council decided that it was not sufficiently clear that a definitive conclusion could be reached such as to demonstrate that the article had breached Principle 1 in this respect, and accordingly that the Press Ombudsman had erred in her application of it.

It agreed with the Press Ombudsman that Gript’s offer of conciliation if Ms Breen gave it further information about what it described as her “condition” was “wholly inadequate”.

In regard to Principle 8, the Press Council agreed that the vulgar and aggressive language used by Gript, as quoted by the Press Ombudsman, was almost certainly intended, and certainly likely, to cause grave offence to Ms Breen. It therefore rejected that aspect of the appeal. However, it decided that the Press Ombudsman had not demonstrated sufficiently that the article, while highly critical of campaigners for transgender rights, was likely to stir up hatred against transgender people as a whole.

View the Decision of the Press Ombudsman