The Sun’s “Blood on his Hands” splash with an “ex-IRA killer’s verdict” on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was the most complained about story of 2017, the Independent Press Standards Organisation has revealed.
The Sun was the most complained about daily newspaper in 2017 with 4,847 complaints made to press regulator IPSO, but more than half of these (2,894) related to the Corbyn story by political editor Tom Newton Dunn.
IPSO did not investigate the story on the grounds it did not raise a possible breach of the Editors’ Code of Practice – the standards to which all of its members are held.
None of the other four most complained about stories were investigated, either because there was no potential breach or because they were third-party complaints, not from those concerned in the articles.
Mail Online’s story naming a man whose “faulty fridge” is thought to have started the Grenfell Tower inferno was the second-most complained about news story last year with 2,111 complaints.
The Daily Mail’s Sarah Vine column, teased on the front page as “Never mind Brexit, Who Won Legs-it!” with a large picture of Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon sat cross-legged in skirts, was third with 2,034 complaints.
Again, none of these complaints were investigated because neither the Prime Minster nor Scotland’s First Minister complained themselves.
Mail Online was the news website which received the most complaints (3,536) while The Mail on Sunday was the most complained about Sunday newspaper with 1,452 complaints in 2017.
Scroll down for the most complained about stories of 2017
The high number of “multiple” complaints, when more than one similar complaint is made about the same article, led to IPSO receiving more than 20,000 complaints in 2017 – up from under 15,000 the year before.
IPSO pointed out an “unsurprising” correlation between the newspapers with the largest circulations and those with the most complaints.
The Sun was the most read UK newspaper throughout 2017, followed by the Metro and the Daily Mail, while Mail Online was the most-read website.
Reach (formerly Trinity Mirror), the UK’s largest regional news publisher and publisher of the Mirror and the Sunday People, had the most upheld complaints (15) in 2017, alongside 47 which were not upheld and 28 which were resolved with mediation from IPSO.
Reach only bought the Express and Star national titles this year, so complaints for these titles do not fall under the publisher in 2017.
Reach titles the Daily Record, the Bristol Post, Manchester Evening News and Hull Daily Mail were the most complained about regional newspapers, with 140, 37, 34 and 34 complaints respectively.
Sun and Times publisher News UK had 12 complaints upheld against its titles in 2017, while Associated Newspapers, encompassing the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, Mail Online and Metro, had ten (including three at the Daily Mail).
Representatives for the Sun, Daily Mail and Reach declined to comment for this article, but Press Gazette understands Sun insiders are irritated that IPSO are using the number of complaints received as a “metric for success”.
IPSO chairman Sir Alan Moses said in the regulator’s annual report that the Editors’ Code of Practice meant IPSO-regulated titles were distinguished from the “babble on the web”.
He said: “2017 has been the year in which IPSO has shown its mettle: established, confident and firm across the whole range of its regulatory activities.
“It was a year when complaints rocketed to over 20,000 – all of which were dealt with by the staff and the Complaints Committee with scrupulous fairness and serious focus.
“IPSO’s experience of three years has provided a solid foundation for protecting the public and making important advances in monitoring and improving standards.
“We now have unrivalled experience in handling, mediating and resolving complaints and it is that experience we deploy in the guidance we have published in relation to best practice in reporting inquests, court reporting, avoidance of intrusion and harassment, the use of social media, and compliance with the Editors’ Code.”
Seven news stories that received large numbers of “multiple” complaints to IPSO in 2017:
|Publication (and publisher)||Headline||Number of IPSO complaints in 2017|
|The Sun (News UK)||BLOOD ON HIS HANDS||2,894|
|Mail Online (Associated Newspapers)||The man ‘whose faulty fridge started tower inferno’: Neighbour reveals how Ethiopian taxi driver raised the alarm when deadly blaze started in his fourth-floor kitchen||2,111|
|Daily Mail (Associated Newspapers)||Never mind Brexit, who won Legs-it!||2,034|
|Metro (Associated Newspapers)||GIRL, 11, KILLED ON WATER RIDE / Pupil suffered cardiac arrest after fall on wild rapids ride||1,448|
|The Mail on Sunday (Associated Newspapers)||GOOGLE BLOOD MONEY||1,175|
|Daily Mail (Associated Newspapers)||Corbyn’s fantasy land||320|
|The Sun (News UK)||TREVOR KAVANAGH Now Philip Hammond is finally Out he must shut the door behind him and take control over our laws, our trade and especially immigration||269|
Picture: Reuters/Luke MacGregor