Times ordered to republish correction - with front page promotion - on inaccurate Labour tax plans splash

The Times has republished a correction, and promoted it on the front page, over an inaccurate story about Labour's tax plans.

The story, published on the front page on 24 April (two weeks before the general election), was headlined "Labour's £1,000 tax on families".

Jonathan Portes complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the claim "Ed Miliband would saddle every working family with extra taxes equivalent to more than £1,000" was inaccurate.

The newspaper later accepted this, and published a correction on 2 May in its usual corrections and clarifications column on its letters page (inside the newspaper, after news and comment).

According to IPSO: "The newspaper said that the error was a regrettable one, and that staff had been reminded by a senior editor of the dangers of misinterpreting statistics."

The complainant accepted the wording of the correction, but said it was not prominent enough. The Times argued that the letters page is an important one and the correct place for corrections to appear.

But IPSO said: "The committee recognised the value of publishing the correction in the newspaper’s established column; choosing to place some corrections in another part of the newspaper could undermine the advantages of having a consistent position for corrections.

"However, the committee was concerned that the newspaper had prominently published material which was so plainly inaccurate.

"Given the nature and prominence of the original breach, the prominence of the correction was not sufficient and therefore the requirements of Clause 1 (ii) had not been met."

The Times was ordered to promote the correction on today's front page and also to publish the correction online, with a link from the homepage for 48 hours.

The “In the news” bar at the bottom of the page includes the headline: “Ipso ruling”. The text beneath reads: “The Independent Press Standards Organisation has required The Times to republish a correction to an article on Labour’s tax plans following an upheld complaint. Page 28.”

On page 28, the letters page on which The Times’s corrections and clarifications are usually published, it says: “The following correction was first published on May 2. It is being republished today with a cross-reference from page 1 following an upheld complaint ruling by the Independent Press Standards Organisation.

“We said that “Ed Miliband would saddle every working family with extra taxes equivalent to more than £1,000” (“Labour’s £1,000 tax on families“, April 24).

“This was inaccurate. The calculation assumes that the extra taxes are shared equally among what the Office for National Statistics defines as 'working households' (where all those over the age of 16 are working).

“In fact, as was explained elsewhere in our article,'“the bulk of Labour’s tax rises will come from a raid on the richest pension pots, a ‘mansion tax’ on properties worth more than £2 million, the re-introduction of the 50p rate and additional levies on banks and tobacco firms'.

“Some of these taxes and levies will only apply to companies, and the others will affect a small minority of families, not 'every working family' as we reported.”

Read the full IPSO ruling here.

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