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Complainant Name:
Pharmacists’ Defence Association

Clauses Noted: 1, 12

Publication: Manchester Evening News


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.


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 M.E.N. on 22 May, we reported that a Droylsden couple had been refused the morning-after pill in a branch of Sainsbury’s because of the pharmacist’s religious beliefs.

We have been asked to point out that while the pharmacist would have been entitled to have done that, in this case the refusal was made on moral, not religious, grounds.

The complaint was resolved on this basis.

Report: 78

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