Five councils have won an apology from The Sunday Telegraph after the national newspaper falsely reported that they had banned hot cross buns in schools for fear of upsetting non-Christians.
The claims first surfaced in The Sunday Telegraph on 16 March and were repeated in other national newspapers and radio programmes (Press Gazette 21 March).
The Sunday Telegraph printed an apology last week after receiving complaints and demands for a correction from councils in Tower Hamlets, Liverpool, York, Wolverhampton and Birmingham.
The newspaper said the councils had asked it to point out that none of them had an official policy on hot cross buns and that their councillors had never discussed banning hot cross buns, nor had they ever instructed council caterers not to serve them in schools.
“Where council catering managers were quoted as saying that hot cross buns were not being served, for whatever reason, this was not as a consequence of any council policy. We apologise for any confusion,” said The Sunday Telegraph.
Patrick Scott, City of York Council’s director of education, who wrote to Sunday Telegraph editor Dominic Lawson to demand an apology, said his council hoped that other news organisations which “repeated The Sunday Telegraph’s story as fact without checking with us first will now also be big enough to apologise.”
He added: “This issue was not about hot cross buns. It was about a national newspaper publishing an inaccurate story, causing upset to minority groups and other readers and damaging this council’s reputation.
“At least The Sunday Telegraph has been big enough to own up to its mistake and the newspaper is to be congratulated for that.”
By Jean Morgan