The Sunday Times has been made to publish a correction to an article headlined: “Asians make up 80 per cent of child groomers,” after it was ruled inaccurate by the UK’s largest press regulator.
The story was published on 10 December 2017 and was also picked up by the Daily Mail, Independent and Sky News.
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Statistics used in the article came from a study by counter-extremism organisation Quilliam, which looked at 58 cases of grooming gangs identified in the UK between 2005 and 2017.
Miqdaad Versi, who regularly challenges newspaper articles relating over their portrayal of Islam, complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation under Clause 1 of the Editor’s Code of Practice (accuracy).
He said the study focused only on those who were found guilty of grooming gang offences, which represents a small portion of overall child sex abuse offences, many of which are carried out by individuals.
He said the headline and first par of the article, which ran on page four of the paper, inaccurately reported the findings of the research. He said the headline implied that people from an Asian background are the main perpetrators of all sexual offences against children.
The Sunday Times denied breaching the code. It said the text of the article “had made clear that the report focused on convicted members of grooming gangs” and that the headline “was not published with any intention to mislead, but was constrained by lack of space”.
The newspaper offered to update the online version of the article and publish a clarification in its corrections and clarifications column, but Versi said this did not go far enough and also called for the paper to apologise.
IPSO upheld Versi’s complaint, but said the proposed clarification was “adequate” to meet the requirements of Clause 1 and should be published. It did not consider an apology necessary.
A correction was published in the Times on 15 April, which read: “We would like to make clear that the report referred to in this article did not find that 80 per cent of all child groomers were Asian, as stated in the article’s headline and opening line.
“Rather, it found that 80 per cent of those convicted of child grooming gang offences were Asian.”