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IPSO’s corruption highlighted by inadequate correction by The Times

IPSO’s corruption highlighted by inadequate correction by The Times

Categories: Latest News

Wednesday April 25 2018

The Times has been forced to issue a correction after the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) upheld a complaint against the newspaper.

The complainant, Tower Hamlets Borough Council, argued that The Times had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice on its reporting of the ‘Foster Care’ story.

The article in question ran with the headline “Judge rules child must leave Muslim foster home” and was published on the 30th of August 2017. This was one of a series of articles released by the paper, with previous articles being released on the 28th and 29th of August 2017, which reported on a child’s fostering arrangement.

The articles on the 28th and 29th raised concerns about a “white Christian child” being “forced into Muslim foster care”.

The articles claimed that the child had been left distressed after the Muslim couple had removed her crucifix, stopped her eating bacon and spoke to her in Arabic.

The article on the 30th claimed that because of the issues outlined in the previous articles the child was “removed from her Muslim foster parents…and reunited with her family as a judge urged councils to seek ‘culturally matched placements’ for vulnerable children”. The article added that “all parties, including Tower Hamlets, supported the decision”.

Tower Hamlets Borough Council complained to IPSO that The Times article released on the 30th was significantly inaccurate. The complainant argued that the paper had “created a distorted impression of its position in the legal proceedings and the judge’s ruling” and that it had failed to “include further information about the case that had come to light through the court hearing”.

The Times failed to mention that the child’s grandmother, who was to be the ultimate caretaker of the child, was in fact Muslim. The paper also failed to mention that a court-appointed guardian had visited the child at her foster home and found her to be “settled and well cared for by the foster carer”.

The article also suggested that the judge had made a ruling against the council by ordering the removal of the child from the Muslim foster care couple, when in fact it was the council that requested the girl be placed in the care of her grandmother.

IPSO ruling stated: “IPSO’s Complaints Committee found that the article gave the impression that the judge had found that the placement was a “failure” by the council; and that this was why she was “removing” the child from her current foster carers, and placing the child with the grandmother. The Committee ruled that this was a distortion”.

The Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets Council, Mr Will Tuckley, said: “We felt it was important to make the complaint to defend our foster carers and protect children in foster care, along with standing up for our diverse communities”.

He added: “From the start, we had significant concerns about the validity of the allegations about the foster carers. For example, one allegation was that they did not speak English, even though that is a prerequisite for any foster carers”.

Whilst IPSO’s ruling is welcome in recognising The Times’ inaccurate reporting, it is disappointing that the correction was not of equal prominence relative to the original article. The original article was a major front page story and the correction was located on the second page of today’s publication of The Times with a small mention on the bottom of the front page as well.

It is also disturbing that The Times, whilst being forced to issue a correction, has not issued an apology for all the hurt and distress their reporting caused to the Muslim foster couple and the British Muslim community in general.

The ‘Foster Care’ story has led to serious criticism of the paper over the last several months for its sensationalist and inaccurate reporting.

After the initial articles on the 28th and 29th, other papers soon reported that the Muslim foster care couple did in fact speak English and the child had not been denied any type of food for religious reasons.

Sir Martin Narey, who led the inquiry into foster care provision, criticised the reporting and said: “It’s such a great shame that so much anguish was caused and I would be desperately alarmed if it discourages people from all races to come forward to offer to foster…It would be disastrous if that happened”.

The correction comes a day after the newly appointed Daily Express editor Mr Gary Jones admitted that the newspaper industry does have a problem with Islamophobia. Giving witness to the Home Affairs Select Committee, Mr Jones said: “Cumulatively, some of the headlines that have appeared in the past have created an Islamophobic sentiment which I find uncomfortable”.

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