Update 15/05/2012: The PCC have finally replied, helpfully acknowledging that the Daily Mail’s correction was incorrect, yet somehow concluding that the error was “not significantly misleading”, they therefore plan to do nothing about it.

Press Complaints Commission’s decision in the case of

Williams v Daily Mail

The complainant considered that an article, which reported a recent study by the University of Bristol into the effect of CP55940 on the brains of rats, was a breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code. In addition, the newspaper’s published clarification of 4 April in relation to the article was not sufficient to address his concerns: the content of the statement was in itself inaccurate.

 

The terms of Clause 1 (Accuracy) state that the press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information. The complainant considered that that the article had inaccurately reported the study, suggesting that it demonstrated a causal link between cannabis use and the development of serious mental illness, when this had not been the study’s aim or outcome.

 

The study had looked at the effect that CP55940 had on the brains of rats. CP55940, a synthetic cannabinoid analogue of THC, mimicked the effects of naturally occurring THC, which was one of the psychoactive compounds found in cannabis. The study had found that the effect of CP55940 on rats was similar to the cognitive dysfunction seen in schizophrenia patients.

 

The complainant said it was fundamentally misleading to present a study that looked at the effect of a synthetic cannabinoid on the brains of rats as evidence that cannabis could lead to schizophrenia. The Commission agreed that the article’s reference to researchers “look[ing] in detail at the changes in the brains of cannabis users” had the potential to be misleading. However, it had to have regard for the fact that the article had made clear – including in a headline reference – that the study had been conducted on rats. In addition, the article had included comments from Dr Matt Jones, the lead author of the study, who expressly drew conclusions from the research about the effects of cannabis on the brain of human users. The researchers who conducted the study considered that it had implications for humans; the Commission considered that the newspaper had been entitled to report their conclusions in this regard to its readers.

 

The main concern for the Commission was that the headline to the piece had gone further and claimed that cannabis can cause schizophrenia. The Commission has previously ruled that headlines should be considered within the context of the article as a whole, as due to space restraints, they can only represent a limited summary of a potentially complex set of facts. However, in this instance, it did not consider that the body to the piece sufficiently clarified or substantiated the headline. The study had not found a causal link between smoking cannabis and the development of schizophrenia. Accordingly, the Commission established a breach of Clause 1 (i) of the Code. The Commission considered that the newspaper’s clarification and amendment to its online article was appropriate. It was satisfied that this course of action was sufficient to remedy the original breach.

 

The Commission acknowledged the complainant’s position regarding the accuracy of the statement. However, it did not consider that the reference to “the active ingredient in cannabis” could be said to raise a further breach of Clause 1. The study had used CP55940, which the complainant accepted was an artificial compound of THC, an active ingredient in cannabis. Given the artificial compound was used in the study to mimic the effects of THC, the reference to it as the active ingredient in cannabis was not significantly misleading. The Commission accepted that it would have been preferable to refer to the compound as “one of” the active ingredients in cannabis. However, it did not consider that readers would be significantly misled in this regard.

 

The complainant had raised concerns regarding the article’s reference that rats had been given cannabis “in a similar dose to a person smoking a joint”. The Commission had contacted the author of the study who had made clear that he did not wish to formally pursue the matter. Without the involvement of the researchers behind the study, the Commission was not in a sufficiently informed position to rule on the accuracy, or otherwise, of the dosage claim. In this instance, the Commission declined to make a ruling under the terms of the Code.

 

Reference No. 114998

Yesterday, the Daily Mail published a “correction” for an article published in October last year. I wrote in January that this is something I didn’t expect ever to see because “the Daily Mail’s editor Paul Dacre also happens to be chairman of the Press Complaints Commission Editors’ Code of Practice Committee”

mendacious correction An incorrect correction in the Daily Mail

The correction issued yesterday

After a protracted six month long campaign to the PCC by two complainants (1) (2), we have finally received a correction and the correction is wrong. The study did not use cannabis or any chemical present in cannabis.

I have filed a complaint with the PCC regarding the correction (PDF). I suggest you do the same (it only takes thirty seconds).

Daily Mail PCC Complaint An incorrect correction in the Daily MailReference:

Kucewicz MT, Tricklebank MD, Bogacz R, & Jones MW (2011). Dysfunctional prefrontal cortical network activity and interactions following cannabinoid receptor activation. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 31 (43), 15560-8 PMID: 22031901 (PDF).

Return to Neurobonkers.com An incorrect correction in the Daily Mail
Tagged with:
 
  • http://twitter.com/TransformDrugs TransformDrugPolicy

    They havent even replied to a request I made to the corrections editor (and re-sent a couple weeks back) that they correct a blatant misrepresentation of Cochrane study (it was in an opinion pice eon the online blog rather than a new piece in the paper – but still). details here:
    http://transform-drugs.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/daily-mail-and-cochrane-review-on.html
    Maybe I should take it to the PCC?

  • http://twitter.com/Neuro_Skeptic Neuroskeptic

    This is still bollocks because the paper wasn’t about “symptoms” of SCZ, it was  about neurobiological effects (electrical oscillations) which are not symptoms of anything, let alone schizophrenia all the symptoms of which are behaviours, not biological changes; and even the authors of the paper interpreted their results mainly in terms of the cognitive effects of cannabinoid receptor agonism rather than the “psychotic” effects…

  • Derek

    I should point out that I have yet to hear anything from the PCC in relation to my complaint about a resolution. Derek Williams, UKCIA

  • http://www.peter-reynolds.co.uk Peter Reynolds

    Now that the complaint is resolved, I am entitled to publish the correspondence.  The CLEAR website is down at the moment due to a DDOS attack but this was the final resolution with the PCC:

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Peter
    Reynolds
    To: Chris Paget
    Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 2:28 PM
    Subject: Re: Press Complaints Commission: Our reference –
    114978

    Chris,

    It is a woefully inadequate correction for what was
    scurrilous, dishonest and corrupt journalism. The fact is that falsification of
    scientific research is normal practice for the Daily Mail. However, it quite
    clearly shows that the entire basis of the article was false so I accept it as
    resolution of my complaint.

    Please can you send me a PDF of the correction when
    it is published?

    Kind regards,

    Peter
    Reynolds

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Chris
    Paget
    To: peter@peter-reynolds.co.uk
    Sent: Friday, March 16, 2012 1:33 PM
    Subject: Press Complaints Commission: Our
    reference – 114978

    Dear Mr Reynolds,

    I write further to my previous email of the 8
    March.

    As you are aware the Commission has been actively considering
    this matter. It considered that the newspaper – in light of its online
    clarification – ought to clarify the position in print as well. As such, the
    newspaper has offered the following wording to be published in its corrections
    and clarifications column on page 2:

    A report on research by the University of Bristol on 26
    October was headlined ‘One cannabis joint ‘can bring on schizophrenia’.’ We are
    happy to clarify that, as the article explained, the research on rats found that
    the active ingredient in cannabis could induce symptoms similar to
    schizophrenia, rather than schizophrenia itself.

    I note from your email of 20 January that you considered a
    clarification in print was called for, one that made clear that the study had
    been conducted on rats. In light of the above, I would be grateful for your
    comments on this proposed wording as a further means by which this matter can be
    resolved.

    As you will agree, this matter has been on-going for some
    time now, and while I acknowledge your position, I believe that the offered
    wording represents a good offer by which the original article and the basis of
    the study by Bristol University are clarified.

    I look forward to hearing from you in due course and within
    the next 7 days.

    Kind regards,

    Chris
    Paget
    Complaints
    Officer

  • http://twitter.com/richardtomsett Richard Tomsett

    Ruling from the PCC regarding this ‘correction’: “The Commission’s decision is that the newspaper had failed to take care to avoid publishing inaccurate information and breached Clause 1 (i) but remedied this breach by publication of a clarification. Furthermore, they recommend that the clarification did not raise a breach of the Code.”

    Pah.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Derek-Williams/1072934911 Derek Williams

    I have also had a reply from the PCC regarding this article (UKCIA complaint)  - the final paragraph should keep you in stitches for weeks.

    “The complainant had raised concerns regarding the article’s reference that rats had been given cannabis “in a similar dose to a person smoking a joint”. The Commission had contacted the author of the study who had made clear that he did not wish to formally pursue the matter. Without the involvement of the researchers behind the study, the Commission was not in a sufficiently informed position to rule on the accuracy, or otherwise, of the dosage claim. In this instance, the Commission declined to make a ruling under the terms of the Code”. 

    So in other words they don’t understand the science, so won’t investigate it. The PCC would seem to be nothing short of corrupt.

    Derek

    Commission’s decision in the case ofWilliams v Daily Mail The complainant considered that an article, which reported a recent study by the University of Bristol into the effect of CP55940 on the brains of rats, was a breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code. In addition, the newspaper’s published clarification of 4 April in relation to the article was not sufficient to address his concerns: the content of the statement was in itself inaccurate. The terms of Clause 1 (Accuracy) state that the press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information. The complainant considered that that the article had inaccurately reported the study, suggesting that it demonstrated a causal link between cannabis use and the development of serious mental illness, when this had not been the study’s aim or outcome. The study had looked at the effect that CP55940 had on the brains of rats. CP55940, a synthetic cannabinoid analogue of THC, mimicked the effects of naturally occurring THC, which was one of the psychoactive compounds found in cannabis. The study had found that the effect of CP55940 on rats was similar to the cognitive dysfunction seen in schizophrenia patients. The complainant said it was fundamentally misleading to present a study that looked at the effect of a synthetic cannabinoid on the brains of rats as evidence that cannabis could lead to schizophrenia. The Commission agreed that the article’s reference to researchers “look[ing] in detail at the changes in the brains of cannabis users” had the potential to be misleading. However, it had to have regard for the fact that the article had made clear – including in a headline reference – that the study had been conducted on rats. In addition, the article had included comments from Dr Matt Jones, the lead author of the study, who expressly drew conclusions from the research about the effects of cannabis on the brain of human users. The researchers who conducted the study considered that it had implications for humans; the Commission considered that the newspaper had been entitled to report their conclusions in this regard to its readers. The main concern for the Commission was that the headline to the piece had gone further and claimed that cannabis can cause schizophrenia. The Commission has previously ruled that headlines should be considered within the context of the article as a whole, as due to space restraints, they can only represent a limited summary of a potentially complex set of facts. However, in this instance, it did not consider that the body to the piece sufficiently clarified or substantiated the headline. The study had not found a causal link between smoking cannabis and the development of schizophrenia. Accordingly, the Commission established a breach of Clause 1 (i) of the Code. The Commission considered that the newspaper’s clarification and amendment to its online article was appropriate. It was satisfied that this course of action was sufficient to remedy the original breach. The Commission acknowledged the complainant’s position regarding the accuracy of the statement. However, it did not consider that the reference to “the active ingredient in cannabis” could be said to raise a further breach of Clause 1. The study had used CP55940, which the complainant accepted was an artificial compound of THC, an active ingredient in cannabis. Given the artificial compound was used in the study to mimic the effects of THC, the reference to it as the active ingredient in cannabis was not significantly misleading. The Commission accepted that it would have been preferable to refer to the compound as “one of” the active ingredients in cannabis. However, it did not consider that readers would be significantly misled in this regard. The complainant had raised concerns regarding the article’s reference that rats had been given cannabis “in a similar dose to a person smoking a joint”. The Commission had contacted the author of the study who had made clear that he did not wish to formally pursue the matter. Without the involvement of the researchers behind the study, the Commission was not in a sufficiently informed position to rule on the accuracy, or otherwise, of the dosage claim. In this instance, the Commission declined to make a ruling under the terms of the Code. Reference No. 114998  Chris PagetComplaints Officer Press Complaints CommissionHalton House20/23 HolbornLondon EC1N 2JD Tel: 020 7831 0022Website: www.pcc.org.uk

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:


Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

Visit our friends!

A few highly recommended friends...