The Press Complaints Commission has ruled that a Daily Star article about “Muslim-only public loos” was both inaccurate and misleading.
Following a complaint from a member of the public, the press watchdog launched an investigation over a front page article carried by the Star on 15 July, which claimed Rochdale shopping centre had installed “Muslim-only squat-hole loos”, and that the local council had wasted “YOUR money” on them.
Adam Sheppard, who neither represents Rochdale Council or the Rochdale Exchange Centre, complained to the PCC claiming it was inaccurate to say that the toilets were “Muslim-only”.
The facilities, which were common to many countries, would be available to all, he said. In addition, the decision to pay for the ‘Nile pans’was taken by the shopping centre, rather than the local council. It did not therefore involve taxpayers’ money.
The Daily Star told the PCC while non-Muslims could have used the loos – they were designed with Muslims in mind.
Nonetheless, it accepted that the headline was inaccurate in that non-Muslims would be free to use the toilets. It also accepted that the loos were paid for by a private developer.
The PCC upheld Sheppard’s complaint, ruling that the Daily Star breached the accuracy clause of the Editors’ Code of Practice.
In its ruling, the PCC said it was ‘particularly concerned at the lack of care the newspaper had taken in its presentation of the story”.
It ruled that the two clear errors of fact would, in the circumstances, have misled readers “in a significant manner”.
The Daily Star removed the story from its website and published the following correction:
‘Our 15 July article said that squat style loos at Rochdale Exchange Centre were for Muslims only and were a waste of the council’s money.
‘We are pleased to make clear that the loos may be used by non-Muslims and that they were paid for by the developer.”