The Daily Mail breached the Editors’ Code with a front-page story published a week before the EU referendum vote which was headlined: “We’re from Europe, let us in”.
This was the ruling of the Independent Press Standards Organisation which took no action against the newspaper because it said the inaccurate headline had already been corrected (on page 2 of the following day’s paper).
The full Daily Mail headline read: “We’re from Europe – let us in! As politicians squabble over border controls, yet another lorry load of migrants arrives in the UK.”
The article reported that a lorry carrying 11 “stowaways” had been intercepted by police in East London. It said they were asked where they were from and they replied “Europe”.
Freedom of movement and border controls was one of the major deciding issues in the UK vote to leave the European Union on 23 June 2016.
Complainant Jake Dartington said the people in the lorry were not from Europe: they were trying to enter the UK illegally, and it was therefore clear they were not European citizens.
The Mail said it accepted that video footage showed that the people in the lorry had said they were from Iraq and Kuwait, and it did not dispute that it was inaccurate to report that they had said they were from Europe.
It said that the story was based on copy provided by a reliable news agency, which had contained the claim that an individual in the lorry had told a police officer that they were from Europe. This claim was made by an eyewitness, who had also taken the video of the incident – the Mail said.
The Mail said that the journalist who prepared the agency copy had listened to the video to corroborate this claim, and was convinced that when the people in the lorry were asked where they were from, one said said “Europe”, in a heavy accent.
The paper said it tried and failed to corroborate this claim with police, the Home Office and other eye witnesses.
The Mail said it corrected the online headline within three hours of receiving a complaint on 16 June.
It then published the following correction on page two in print:
“In common with other newspapers, we published a reputable news agency’s story yesterday which said that stowaways intercepted in east London had told police that they were ‘from Europe’. In fact, while they had travelled to the UK in an Italian vehicle from mainland Europe, the migrants told police they were from Iraq and Kuwait.”
The IPSO code committee said in its ruling: “…in the video, the individual in the lorry could clearly be heard telling the police that they were from Iraq and Kuwait. This was repeated by the police officers present, and the committee did not therefore accept the explanation offered for the error in transcription.”
It found that the Daily Mail had breached the Editor’s Code, but already taken sufficient action.