26 May 2011

Press Complaints Commission

Our reference:  112012

Dear Mr Foley

Further to our previous correspondence, the Commission has now made its assessment of your complaint under the Editors’ Code of Practice.

The Commission members have asked me to thank you for giving them the opportunity to consider the points you raise.  However, their decision is that there has been no breach of the Code in this case. A full explanation of the Commission’s decision is attached.

Although the Commissioners have come to this view, they have asked me to send a copy of your letter to the editor so that they are aware of your concerns.

If you are dissatisfied with the way in which your complaint has been handled - as opposed to the Commission’s decision itself - you should write within one month to the Independent Reviewer, whose details can be found in our How to Complain leaflet or on the PCC website at the following link:

Thank you for taking this matter up with us.

Yours sincerely

Elizabeth Cobbe

Commission’s decision in the case of
Foley v The Daily Telegraph

The complainant was concerned that the article incorrectly implied that an “American-style shoot-out” was a possibility in the situation; that it wrongly claimed that the first protester was a “Scouser” when he was, in fact, Irish; and that the protest against Ryanair had been because of plane food.

The Commission made clear that individuals are entitled to express their views and write about their experiences, provided that they are clearly distinguished from fact. In this instance, it was clear that the article reflected Cristina Odone’s personal experience and views on her appearance on “Question Time”. Readers would be aware that it was her initial contention that the protester may commence an “American-style shoot-out”. It did not consider that they would be misled into understanding that such an incident took place or that there was any evidence to suggest that he intended to take such action. Rather, it was clear that this was her initial reaction to his approach to the panellists’ table. Similarly, the Commission considered that she was entitled to express her view of the protest against Ryanair. She did not specify the grounds for the protest – she made clear that she “didn’t know” what “had got to him” but speculated on why the individual was protesting – and as such readers would not be misled as to the specific reasons for the campaign. The Commission was satisfied that readers would not be misled on these points and, as such, it could not establish a breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code.

The complainant was further concerned by the reference to a “Scouser” who was, in fact, Irish. The Commission acknowledged the complainant’s position on the statement; however, it was evidently the Ms Odone’s view that the man had been a “Scouser”.  Readers would understand that the article reflected her account and understanding of the incident. In addition, it did not consider that this amounted to a significant point of accuracy which would mislead readers as to the events on “Question Time”. There was no breach of the Editors’ Code of Practice on this point.

Reference No. 112012

Elizabeth Cobbe
Complaints Officer

Press Complaints Commission
Halton House
20/23 Holborn
London EC1N 2JD

Tel: 020 7831 0022

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