Here's an interesting decision from the Pathetically Craven Commission, about an article by Christopher Booker in the Telegraph:
The article [headlined Rise of sea levels is ‘the greatest lie ever told'] was a column by Christopher Booker on the subject of climate change. The complainant said that this piece - which was primarily an account of the views of Dr Nils-Axel Mörner - contained a number of inaccurate and misleading statements, including that sea levels had dropped around Tuvalu in recent decades, when the scientific evidence indicated that they had, in fact, risen (this was repeated in a second article published on 25 July 2009).
The complainant argued that Dr Mörner's visits to the Maldives ‘to confirm' the position had subsequently been disproved by other scientists. The article had also inaccurately stated that the satellite-based evidence of the IPCC (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) had been altered to show a global sea-level rise based on the findings of a single tidal gauge in Hong Kong. In fact, this alteration had been scientifically justified, and the final conclusion on the global sea-level rise was based on multiple measurements from satellite altimetry and tidal gauges based around the world.
The PCC made it clear they couldn't judge accuracy or otherwise in sources' comments or arguments, which is fair enough. Imagine how much work they'd have to do if they did:
In this particular case, the Commission started from the position that a complex issue such as climate change will inevitably lead to robust and ongoing debate. It is not of course for the PCC to make findings of fact on where the truth about climate change lies, but to consider whether newspapers have abided by the terms of the Code when presenting information to their readers. For instance, they have the right to publish controversial or minority opinions, but they are obliged to distinguish between comment, conjecture and fact.
But did Brooker's article do this?
Similarly in Tuvalu, where local leaders have been calling for the inhabitants to be evacuated for 20 years, the sea has if anything dropped in recent decades. The only evidence the scaremongers can cite is based on the fact that extracting groundwater for pineapple growing has allowed seawater to seep in to replace it. Meanwhile, Venice has been sinking rather than the Adriatic rising, says Dr Mörner.
Is that fact or opinion? Only the third sentence is couched in "Dr Morner said". You could argue that the first two are covered by that, but I don't think so.
Also interesting is how the Telegraph offered to remedy things. Initially:
The complainant had submitted a letter for publication after these articles appeared, which the newspaper had declined to publish.
Then, much later, when the PCC had become involved:
At a late stage, it offered to publish a letter from the complainant, and to mark its cuttings with it in relation to the Tuvalu issue.
So there's the power of the PCC. To make newspapers publish letters they wouldn't otherwise publish. Long after the initial article has appeared. Good skills, too, from the Telegraph, really maintaining its position as Britain's top quality paper.