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Complainant Name:
The Pharmacists’ Defence Association

Clauses Noted: 1, 12

Publication: Tameside Advertiser

Complaint:

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association complained that an article had inaccurately reported that a pharmacist’s refusal to provide emergency contraception to a couple was based on his “religious beliefs” and implied that this was because he was a Muslim.

The complainant said that the pharmacist had – as allowed by the pharmacist’s ethical Code – declined to provide the service on “personal and ethical” grounds and had directed them to an alternative pharmacy (despite receiving racist abuse from the man). There was no mention of religion during the exchange and the pharmacist did not indicate that he was a Muslim.

Resolution:

The newspaper indicated that the article was published after an interview with the couple who had told their version of events: that the pharmacist had declined to provide the pill on “religious grounds”. The store in which the pharmacist worked did not deny the couple’s version of events but gave details of the pharmacist’s ethical Code to support his decision to decline the service.

That said, the newspaper accepted that the pharmacist had not refused to give the drug out on religious grounds and agreed that this claim should have been attributed to the couple in the article. It published the following correction on the point.

In the Tameside Advertiser dated 22 May, we reported that a Droylsden couple were refused the morning-after pill in a branch of Sainsbury’s because of a pharmacist’s religious beliefs.

We have been asked to make it clear that the pharmacist involved refused to supply the pill on the basis of moral and ethical grounds, not on the basis of religion. We are happy to make the correction.

The complaint was resolved on this basis.

Report: 78



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