The Press Complaints Commission has ruled against the RSPCA’s complaint about the Daily Telegraph’s coverage of it.
In a ruling yesterday, the PCC did not uphold the RSPCA’s claim that the national newspaper’s coverage of the charity in the wake of its successful prosecution of the Heythrop Hunt was excessively negative.
Last year the RSPCA successfully prosecuted the Hunt and two of its former members who admitted breaching the Hunting Act, accepting four criminal charges of intentionally hunting a fox with dogs.
The Daily Telegraph then printed a series of articles starting on 21 December 2012 about the prosecution, which included criticisms of the charity’s £320,000 spend on the prosecution and concern that the charity has “lost its way”.
This led the RSPCA to log its complaint with the Press Complaints Commission in the new year – specifically that the newspaper breached the terms of the Editors’ Code of Practice.
The ruling states that there was no breach of Clause 1 (accuracy) and that the newspaper had endeavoured to present the RSPCA's viewpoint throughout the coverage.
A spokesman for the PCC said: “In this case the Commission concluded that there was no breach of the Editors’ Code of Practice.”
RSPCA: ruling sets precedent for more charity attacks
The RSPCA’s chief legal officer Ray Goodfellow expressed his disappointment about the PCC’s ruling.
“We fully accept that the media have a right to their editorial opinion and to show both sides of any argument,” he said. “However, it was – and still remains – our belief that the Daily Telegraph failed to provide such balance.
“As such this ruling gives the green light for critical and politically-motivated attacks on charities by hostile media. It also begs a question as to the future appropriateness of the PCC itself and provides further evidence of why an independent regulatory body is required to judge on matters of complaints against the press.”
The Daily Telegraph has not commented throughout the case.