Guardian tops list of complaints received by IPSO about unregulated newspapers

The Independent Press Standards Organisation has received more than 500 online complaints about unregulated national newspapers – most of which were about The Guardian.

The Guardian and Observer, Financial Times, Evening Standard and Independent titles have so far not signed up to IPSO, which replaced the Press Complaints Commission in September 2014, or to alternative press regulator Impress.

Instead these titles have opted to regulate themselves.

Press Gazette asked IPSO how many complaints it has received about these titles.

IPSO only has figures for online complaints submitted about unregulated titles. Those who phone up to complain about content in these papers are simply told by IPSO that it does not regulate them and are referred on to the papers themselves.

According to IPSO, it has received 407 complaints through its online system about The Guardian.

More than half – 262 – of these were in relation to a Steve Bell cartoon of SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond. The Guardian itself dismissed claims that the cartoon was "racist" saying that it was a joke targeted at the SNP, not Scottish people in general.

IPSO said it had received a further 84 complaints about The Independent. Earlier this month, Press Gazette reported how the regulator had received 12 complaints about the title's 'Aylan' front page.

The Independent's sister title the Evening Standard, meanwhile, was the subject of 37 complaints and The Independent on Sunday of three.

Four complaints over the same period have been made to IPSO over The Observer and two on the Financial Times.

Complaints to the FT, Guardian/Observer and Independent/Standard titles are dealt with in-house initially. The FT also has its own ombudsman, and The Guardian/Observer has a review panel, both of which deal with issues which can't be settled in-house.

Press Gazette understands that IPSO is planning to release complaints figures for all the newspapers it regulates.

Press Gazette asked Guardian News and Media and the Independent/Standard (as the most complained-about non-regulated titles) how many complaints they have received themselves, and what happens when complaints can't be resolved internally.

A Guardian News and Media spokesperson said: "Our data shows that 12 months after IPSO opened its doors, the vast majority of complainants are coming directly to the Guardian for a speedy resolution.  

"The Steve Bell cartoon attracted a high volume of complaints to our independent readers' editor, who dealt with ?each one swiftly and openly. We also publish details of complaints and the findings of our Independent Review Panel on our website, including instances where ?the Review Panel has ruled against us.?"
 
Standard and Independent managing editor Will Gore said: "We don’t plan to release figures at this stage, bearing in mind that other titles have not yet done so. But on the general point about the in-house system we operate, you’ll be aware that we have established easy-to-use complaint forms at both standard.co.uk and independent.co.uk – signposted via the links at the foot of each page: http://www.independent.co.uk/service/code-of-conduct-and-complaints-6280644.html and http://www.standard.co.uk/incoming/code-of-conduct-complaints-7467885.html.

"We also run a panel in all three daily titles setting out our commitment to high standards and explaining how people can get in touch.

"All complaints come through to me. In conjunction with my colleague Lizzie Kirkwood (our readers’ liaison assistant), I examine each case and consider whether it raises any matter requiring a remedy. We then work with editorial colleagues and the complainant to find a satisfactory resolution to the case. Overwhelmingly, we have been able to resolve cases which have merit – both significant and minor – expeditiously and to the satisfaction of complainants.

"Naturally we keep our system under review and will continue to do so."

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