Mail allowed page two corrections for front-page errors

The Daily Mail is right to publish page two corrections for two “sloppy” page one errors, the Press Complaints Commission has ruled.

Full Fact complained to the PCC over two front page Daily Mail stories, headlined: ‘UK doles out more aid than any other country’and ‘Britain’s broken schools”, published on 27 May and 11 July this year.

The first story claimed: ‘Britain spends more on aid as a percentage of national income than any other country in the world ‘. The second one stated: ‘violent behaviour in our classrooms has doubled in just a year”.

The Mail published a correction on page two today in response to the first story stating: ‘A front-page article on 27 May said that Britain spends more on aid as a percentage of national income than any other country in the world. In fact it spends more than any other G8 country as a percentage of GDP and is second in the world behind the US in cash terms.”

The Mail also admitted that the second article was partially incorrect. It had come to the conclusion that violent behaviour in schools had doubled by comparing the number of reported physical assaults per day (450) with a statistic which included verbal abuse and threatening behaviour (1,000).

The Daily Mail’s agreed correction stated: ‘An article on July 11 reported that 1,000 pupils a day are excluded for violent behaviour and that this has doubled in a year. While the figure for exclusions is correct – and all statistics were put to the Department before publication – this does not in fact represent an increase.”

Full Fact argued that the decision to put the corrections on page two went against the Editors’ Code, which states that corrections should be given ‘due prominence”.

While upholding Full Fact’s complaint, that the stories breached the Editors’ Code, the PCC said that on this occasion front-page mistakes did not require front-page corrections.

The PCC said: ‘It may be appropriate, on some occasions, for a correction to a front-page story to be published on the front page, and the PCC has negotiated such texts in the past. The commission does not believe that every front-page error, in whatever context, must be corrected in the same location.

‘In these cases, the commission had to have regard for the full context of the errors. While the mistakes were sloppy, the issues were not personal to the complainant and had not caused personal harm.

‘In addition, in the commission’s view, the errors did not render the coverage of either story to be wholly inaccurate, including on the front page. In the full circumstances of the complaints raised on this occasion, page two corrections (within a new column) were proportionate.”

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