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The Mail targets innocent people: demand an investigation

By Alice Watkins

The Daily Mail, and its sister titles MailOnline and The Mail on Sunday, have been responsible for serious wrongdoing targeted at members of the public over the years, including intrusion, abuse and inaccurate reporting.  Yet none of these cases were found by IPSO to be enough to trigger an investigation.

The examples below show that nothing has changed since before the phone hacking scandal when newspapers, as Sir Brian Leveson described it, were ‘ wreaking havoc in the lives of innocent people’.

 

Intrusion into grief

Last year the Daily Mail published the CCTV footage of young woman’s last moments before she was hit by a car, the morning after her death. This was a stark example of intrusion into grief.

The woman’s mother Mandy, writing about what happened, said,

“We had barely told our three other children what had happened.

The police had told the Mail not to publish, but they refused and went ahead”.

But when Mandy complained to IPSO under Clause 4 of the code (Intrusion into Grief), her complaint was ultimately rejected, after months of gruelling exchanges with the Mail Online. She described the whole complaints process “unnecessarily distressing’.

 

Harmful allegations

Dean Stott, a decorated veteran, fundraiser and friend of Prince Harry, became the target of allegations published by the Mail on Sunday which accused him of cheating on his World Record attempt. His wife, Alana Stott, bravely shared the detrimental impact this had on their young family. Their marriage came under strain, and her mental and physical health suffered following the ordeal.

 

Libel of a charity founder

In 2014, Baylissa Frederick, a professional counsellor and founder of a charity which helped people suffering from addiction to sleeping pills won an apology from the Daily Mail for libel. The paper had published defamatory allegations about her medical history.

As a result of the article many people accused Baylissa of lying about her personal history and betraying the victims of addiction she was helping.

It took nearly a year from Baylissa first contacting the Mail for a correction before the paper agreed to pay damages – and even then, the settlement did not include a correction in print.

 

Career-destroying accusations

Danielle Hindley,  another victim of unsubstantiated claims printed in the Daily Mail, has also spoken publicly about the realities of being a target of press abuse. Danielle saw her mental health seriously affected after libellous coverage about her business was published in the Mail on Sunday in 2017. She suffered from anxiety, panic attacks and was even diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

 

The Mail’s attacks on ordinary people must stop.  Demand a standards investigation today.

IPSO is currently on… 

without a standards investigation

(and counting)

How do they get away with it?

 

The Times on Muslims.  The Telegraph on science.  The Jewish Chronicle on accuracy.  The Daily Mail’s treatment of the public.

All four of these publications have let down their readers in different ways, and all should be held accountable.  But instead of acting to protect the public, the complaints-handler IPSO has failed to investigate any of these patterns of misreporting in its seven years of existence.

It’s a record which should shame the organisation.

And if none of these cases of serious and systemic standards failures are sufficient to trigger an investigation, what will be?

The Times is libelling Muslims at an extraordinary rate.  The Chronicle has breached the code more than thirty times in three years.  The Telegraph squeezed seven inaccurate stories about a public health emergency into less than four months.  The Mail has caused terrible harm to at least six people over the last few years.

What more could possibly go wrong for IPSO to start holding these publishers accountable?

The truth is that a standards investigation has always been a remote possibility.  When the newspaper industry drew up its plans for IPSO they crafted the rules to make it almost impossible for an investigation to be launched.

That is how we arrived here: seven years of IPSO’s existence, countless cases of abuse, disinformation and discrimination in the press – and yet not a single standards investigation.

The result is that newspapers are emboldened to continue to act, to lie and to abuse, with impunity.  Until IPSO is replaced by an independent regulator, they will continue to do so.

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