14 Jun PCC Complaint. The Daily Mail, 2nd June 2011 – NOT UPHELD
–—- Original Message —–
From: Peter Reynolds
To: [email protected]
Sent: Tuesday, June 14, 2011 4:22 PM
Subject: Complaint against The Daily Mail, issue dated 2nd June 2011
“Luvvies for legalisation: You’re being naive in the extreme, celebrities told after drugs plea to PM”, The Daily Mail, 02-06-11
I wish to make a complaint concerning the above article which is still available online at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1393299/Celebrities-told-theyre-naive-drugs-legalisation-plea-PM.html
I make the complaint on my own account but also in my capacity as the Leader of Cannabis Law Reform (CLEAR), a UK political party, of P.O.Box 674, Salfords, Redhill, RH1 9BN. For the purposes of correspondence, please use my personal address as below.
1. This article breaches the Editors’ Code Of Practice clause 1.i) in that it publishes inaccurate, misleading and distorted information.
2. The editor and the journalist concerned have failed in their duty to maintain the highest professional standards.
3. Although the article is presented as a comment piece, that does not absolve the publishers of their responsibility “…not to publish inaccurate, misleading and distorted information”
4. The article quotes Mary Brett, a trustee of charity Cannabis Skunk Sense saying “There is no doubt that cannabis can cause psychosis”. This is an entirely false statement which contradicts all credible scientific research.
5. Ms Brett is notorious for distributing misinformation and untruths about cannabis. Her charity is presently the subject of a complaint to the Charity Commission for the falsification of scientific evidence. The Daily Mail is irresponsible in using her as the source of any information and in doing so the editor and the journalist concerned have failed in their duty to maintain the highest professional standards.
6. Professor Glyn Lewis of the University of Bristol, one of the world’s foremost authorities on the subject is on the record, to the commission’s first hand knowledge saying only a few weeks ago “we cannot be certain” of a causal link between cannabis use and psychosis.
I would be grateful if you would deal with this complaint at your earliest convenience. I shall be happy to provide any further information required or to give oral evidence in support.
Commission’s decision in the case of
Reynolds v Daily Mail
The complainant was concerned that the article included an inaccurate statement regarding the connection between cannabis and psychosis.
The Commission made clear that newspapers are entitled to publish the comments of individuals, provided that they are clearly presented as such. The Commission noted that the connection between cannabis and psychosis was a matter of some debate, and that a number of different views were held on the relationship between the two. It was not the role of the Commission to come to a definitive conclusion as to whether cannabis could cause psychotic illnesses, but rather for it to consider whether such a claim would mislead readers. Mary Brett evidently took the view that cannabis could cause psychosis, which she expressed in unequivocal terms. This appeared to be an established position, as evidenced in the conclusion of the study “Cannabis use and risk of psychotic or affective mental health outcomes: a systematic review”, which states that “there is now enough evidence to inform people that using cannabis could increase their risk of developing a psychotic illness later in life”. While the Commission acknowledged that the complainant held very different views on the connection between the substance and psychosis, it considered that the newspaper was entitled to publish Mary Brett’s comments and was satisfied that readers would recognise that her comments represented her position on the effects of cannabis. It could not establish that her comments were inaccurate or substantially misleading. In the circumstances, it could not establish a breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.