The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) has found against Boris Johnson and the Daily Telegraph after the former Foreign Secretary claimed that no deal was the public’s preferred Brexit option. The Daily Telegraph has now apologised for the inaccurate claim and published an apology.
The Daily Telegraph had defended Johnson and said:
“The article was clearly an opinion piece, and readers would understand that the statement was not invoking specific polling – no specific dates or polls were referenced.”
The IPSO conclusion said:
“Columnists are free under the Code to campaign, be partisan, and express strong opinions using hyperbole, melodrama and humour. However, there remains an obligation under the Code to take care over the accuracy of any claims of fact. In this case, the article made a factual claim; in considering whether this claim had a basis in fact, the Committee first turned to the content of the five polls. The publication had not provided any data which supported the author’s claim either that a no-deal Brexit was the option preferred “by some margin” over the three options listed, or that these represented “…all of the options suggested by pollsters”. Instead it had construed the polls as signalling support for a no deal, when in fact, this was the result of the publication either amalgamating several findings together, or interpreting an option beyond what was set out by the poll as being a finding in support of a no deal Brexit. This represented a failure to take care over the accuracy of the article in breach of Clause 1 (i). The reference to the polling was not material to the author’s polemical argument. However, it was a significant inaccuracy, because it misrepresented polling information. The publication had not offered to publish any correction and this meant there was also a breach of 1(ii).”