Hacked Off report identifies 55 fake news stories about Covid-19 published in National Newspapers in 2020. IPSO failed to uphold a complaint on any of the stories included in the report.

IPSO has failed to take action over more than 50 national newspaper articles containing dangerous conspiracy theories and disinformation about Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic –  a Hacked Off report has revealed.


Keep Our NHS Public Co-Chair and retired Consultant Paediatrician, Dr Tony O’Sullivan, said:

“Responsible reporting can be an invaluable tool in highlighting the realities of both frontline NHS conditions and public safety information during a pandemic, and we welcome working with the press in these instances. However, knowingly spreading dangerous misinformation or publishing damaging reports without properly fact-checking (as a minority have done) undermines public health efforts and is frankly insulting to thousands of frontline healthcare staff currently working so very hard; we know also that hearing these sorts of irresponsible stories repeated deeply affects morale. This lazy journalism needs to stop as it does real damage to the vital efforts of us all in fighting the biggest health crisis we have seen in more than a century.”


Dr Philippa Whitford MP, APPG Vaccinations for All, said:

“With the internet already awash with fake news on Covid-19, surely it’s reasonable to expect reputable journalists to do their research before publishing conspiracy stories which may endanger lives.”


Hacked Off Policy Director Nathan Sparkes said, 

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic some newspapers have been guilty of publishing serious disinformation, or “fake news”, alongside multiple distortions.


Whether false information about the severity of the virus, fictitious stories about miracle cures, or simply the stuff of conspiracy theories, some newspapers have spewed out the same discredited and dangerous “fake news” which has appeared on social media platforms.


The coronavirus pandemic has exposed a lack of regard for accuracy and proper editorial review at many of the UK’s most-read newspapers, with titles frequently churning out stories about Coronavirus which were seriously and recklessly inaccurate, misleading, or untrue.


This is possible because, unlike every other major industry in the UK, the press remains unregulated. IPSO – the complaints-handler controlled by newspaper executives – has not ordered a single investigation in the six years since it was established.”



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