IPSO rules no breach of editors code, but suggest ‘taking concerns to the police’

Media regulator IPSO reviewed the complaint lodged by DAUK against Allison Pearson’s articles in the Telegraph and ruled there was no breach of their code. Instead they suggested taking our concerns to the police.

read the background to our complaint to IPSO, their initial response, and our further reply below:

The Doctors’ Association UK acknowledge receipt of your response to our complaint against Allison Pearson’s recent articles for the Daily Telegraph and would like to lodge a formal appeal against your rejection of this complaint.

The Editors’ Code makes it clear that the press has the right to give its own opinion and to publish individual views, as long as it takes care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, and to distinguish between comment, conjecture and fact.

We also acknowledge your comments stating that:
1. You recognise the offence that Ms Pearson may have caused.
2. Ms Pearson is entitled to publish her opinions.
3. The publication of conjecture is explicitly allowed.

We maintain the view that these articles clearly and persistently demonstrate inaccurate, misleading and distorted information. At no point during the writing of these articles does Ms Pearson attempt to distinguish her comments from fact or conjecture. Opinions cannot contradict facts.

As a result Miss Pearson has, through these articles, repeatedly misrepresented the work performed in general practice, with official NHS data confirming that GPs are providing more consultations than ever before despite a significantly depleted workforce.

We are unable to find any evidence in the articles to suggest that Ms Pearson was speaking metaphorically or symbolically, particularly as she proceeded to share tragic experiences from her readers highlighting substandard care. The NHS has a robust complaints system in place, and patients who feel aggrieved by individual personal experiences with their doctor should rightly take such matters up with their practice. But the persistent mischaracterisation of an entire national workforce based on a small number of anecdotes is inaccurate, misleading and disingenuous.

We stand by each of our points, particularly point 6 describing Ms Pearson’s incitement of attacks and abuse against GPs and primary care workers. (“Time to turn the heat up on GPs who won’t see us face to face”.) We should also highlight the tragic case of a subsequent attack against GP staff that injured four workers and hospitalised three, one of whom sustained a fractured skull. 

Independent research has revealed that 83% of patients reported an overall ‘good’ experience of their GP practice this year. Comments describing GP services as “cruel, negligent and, frankly, inhuman treatment” are therefore not based on fact and, again, mischaracterise an entire workforce that has devoted their professional lives towards caring for the health of their communities. 

We respectfully urge you to review our initial complaint which has 3261 signatures of support (we invite you to read some of the signatories comments on our Instagram page). The Daily Telegraph is responsible for the conduct of its staff and we note cartoonist Bob Moran was suspended following his twitter abuse of Dr Rachel Clarke. We request you provide irrefutable evidence that Ms Pearson’s writings merely represent nothing more than opinion and conjecture.