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IPSO taken to court for inaction on complaints

IPSO taken to court for inaction on complaints

Categories: Latest News

Monday April 09 2018

Hacked Off, a group campaigning for “a free and accountable press”, reports that the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) is being taken to court for the first time, due to IPSO’s inaction and ineffectiveness.

Mr Jonathan Coulter, one of 30 people, complained unsuccessfully to IPSO in December 2016 about a number of articles in the Times and the Sunday Times which misreported meetings the group had attended in the House of Lords.

The meeting, chaired by Baroness Tonge, was organised by the Palestinian Return Centre and was described in the article as being anti-Semitic in nature.

Mr Coulter is taking IPSO to court with specific grievances against IPSO’s modus operandi, including:

  • The rejection of complaints if the “wrong person” brings them forward;
  • Allowing for the publication of offensive and/or inaccurate and misleading content if part of an “opinion article” and not a news article;
  • And the limited manner in which IPSO conducts its investigation.

The first grievance arises because the original complaint was dismissed because IPSO had refused to consider Baroness Tonge had been defamed because Baroness Tonge had not been the one who had brought the complaint forward.

This is disturbing as it essentially allows for inaccuracy to become prevalent in mainstream media as long as the “right person” does not complain to IPSO. The decision for a person to not pursue a complaint is also complex and provisions should be available for inaccurate and defamatory articles to be addressed by anyone.

The second grievance is due to the fact that articles put forward a number of supposed “facts”, some of which were correct and some of which were not. The article made the inaccurate claim that in the meeting it had been stated that “Israel should be wiped from the map”. IPSO refused to consider the complaint because the article in question was an opinion article and not a news article.

Mr Coulter argues that this stance goes against IPSO’s own Editors’ Code of Practice which states that “the press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information”.

The third grievance is because Mr Coulter argues that IPSO did not investigate the case properly. Indeed, IPSO had refused to consider a House of Lord report which strongly objected to claims in the article, specifically that it had been organised to promote anti-Semitism or that it had been used to promote such ideals.

The High Court accepted the case in October 2017 and the case will be heard on the 17th of April 2018.

It is expected that if the case against IPSO is successful then the original complaints will be considered again and the way IPSO conducts investigations will be forced to change…

Mr Coulter has said: “They [people] often face powerful business and political interests with large PR budgets and the means to get their “stories” planted in multiple news outlets at once…A win in this case will send a warning shot across the bows of newspapers, encourage them to check their facts before publishing, and help Hacked Off and Parliament to advance the cause of press reform”.

Complaints against IPSO’s inaction and ineffectiveness of IPSO have recently been renewed when IPSO Chairman, Mr Alan Moses, admitted that in a year of more than 8,000 complaints citing discrimination, only 1 was upheld.

You can learn more about the Hacked Off campaign and how to get involved here.

MEND supports the Hacked Off campaign and actively lobbies for media reform and the full implementation of the Royal Charter of a Leveson Compliant regulator






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