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Media & PR

Daily Telegraph forced to publish correction for Toby Young’s claims

The Daily Telegraph has had to publish a correction after the press regulator IPSO ruled that it had published a piece from Toby Young containing false claims about coronavirus.

As The Guardian reports:

An article by Toby Young for the Daily Telegraph was “significantly misleading” when it said that catching a cold could protect people from coronavirus and claimed that London was approaching herd immunity, the press regulator has ruled.

In a decision published on Thursday, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) complaints committee ordered the Telegraph to publish a correction over the column, which was appeared in July last year under the headline: “When we have herd immunity Boris will face a reckoning on this pointless and damaging lockdown.”

It’s worth noting that this was not just a case of a mistake slipping through. Rather, the Daily Telegraph tried to defend the article to the regulator. But the regulator found a string of errors and refusals to correct:

The publication … misrepresented the nature of immunity and implied that people previously exposed to some common colds might be automatically immune to suffering symptoms and passing on Covid-19 to others … The publication did not offer to correct this significantly misleading statement …

The statement that cross-reactive T-cells mean “that the population of London is probably approaching herd immunity” was significantly misleading. It was misleading both as to how herd immunity is reached and whether it existed in London … the newspaper did not offer to correct this significantly misleading statement.

As the correction states:

An article (11 July) about Covid 19 argued that people with cross-reactive T cells ‘ will have natural immunity’ having ‘already successfully fought off other coronaviruses ‘. This was incorrect as such people may still contract and transmit Covid. The article also wrongly proposed that ‘London is probably approaching herd immunity’ but cross-reactive T cells do not prevent infection spreading and therefore do not create herd immunity and there was no evidence to support such immunity was being established in London. This correction follows an upheld ruling by IPSO.

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