Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) that The Jewish Chronicle breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Jewish group helped arrange tour for disgraced anti-Israel activist”, published on 16 September 2022.
The complaint was upheld, and IPSO required The Jewish Chronicle to publish this adjudication to remedy the breach of the Code.
The article reported that Rabbi Weiss had “said the number who died in the Holocaust had been exaggerated” and attributed this claim to a report from another publication. Rabbi Weiss said that this was incorrect and that he had never said this, and that the inaccuracy was particularly serious given that his grandparents had died at Auschwitz. Prior to publication, Rabbi Weiss had told the publication that he denied making such a statement.
The newspaper accepted that Rabbi Weiss had denied saying that “the figures for how many people who died in the Holocaust are exaggerated.” It also accepted that it had been made aware, prior to publication, that a retraction of this claim had previously been published, and that its initial attribution to Rabbi Weiss was “erroneous”. After the article was published online, a reporter at the publication was told that this claim was inaccurate. It was then removed from the article, and a verbal apology made over the phone. However, after this phone call, the same inaccuracy was published in print.
In such circumstances, the publication had not taken care over the accuracy of this claim, and there was therefore a breach of Clause 1 (i). This had led to the publication of a significant inaccuracy, where the article inaccurately attributed a statement to Rabbi Weiss concerning the number of people who had died in the Holocaust. Therefore, the newspaper was required, under the terms of Clause 1 (ii) of the Editors’ Code, to correct the inaccuracy promptly and with due prominence and — if appropriate — publish an apology.
The publication published an online correction, making clear that Rabbi Weiss disputed making the statement, three days after Ipso began its investigation into the matter. It also offered to publish a correction in its print edition; it made this offer six days after Ipso began its investigation into the matter. However, the Committee did not consider that this limited action satisfied the terms of Clause 1 (ii). It considered that the remedial action failed on two fronts: it was not sufficiently prompt, where the publication had been aware of the Rabbi’s position prior to the publication of the print article, and it had taken over a month for the publication to correct the error online and propose a print correction; and neither correction included an apology to the Rabbi. To claim that the Rabbi had said that the number of people who had died in the Holocaust was exaggerated had the clear potential to damage his reputation; therefore, a published apology would have been an appropriate remedy, where Clause 1 (ii) makes a specific reference to apologies being published where appropriate, and where the apology to the Rabbi had only been made verbally. For these reasons, there was a further breach of Clause 1 (ii).