Victims have no confidence in press regulator
The following open letter to Sir Alan Moses was published in the Guardian on Tuesday September 8th, from new victims of press abuse who were let down by IPSO over the last 12 months.
We have all complained to the ‘Independent Press Standards Organisation’ (IPSO) about newspaper stories that distorted facts, intruded into our lives or set out to shame, ridicule or humiliate us.
We all hoped for fair treatment but in every case – even where a complaint was upheld – IPSO was either biased in favour of the newspaper or failed to follow due process. There is no appeal against IPSO’s decisions, and not even an independent review of their complaints process.
We have no confidence in this sham body, which is controlled by the newspapers which have appointed their own “industry representatives” to sit in judgment on their compliance with their own “Editors’ Code”.
Set up a year ago today, as a replacement for the discredited Press Complaints Commission, IPSO promised to provide “real protection for ordinary people” and ensure that ”some of the things you heard about at the Leveson Inquiry can never happen again”. It was said that there would be fines of up to £1 million; upfront corrections and investigative powers to call editors to account. None of this has happened.
IPSO does not take any active steps to ensure that the Code of Conduct is complied with. When it upholds complaints it does not take effective steps to change newspaper conduct. For example, not a single front-page code breach has been corrected with anything near equivalent prominence.
Our experience demonstrates that IPSO cannot even run a fair or competent complaints system.
As the Leveson Report anticipated, IPSO is simply a cosmetically altered version of the discredited PCC. It has changed nothing and will change nothing. The victims of continuing abuse by the newspapers and the people of this country, deserve better. Our experience is yet more reason why the Leveson reforms should be implemented in full.
Emily Brothers (1)
Douglas Wilson (2)
Bob Littler (3)
Reiner Luyken (4)
Ahmed Mian (5)
Robert Bray (6)
Linda Pearson (7)
Laura Thomason (8)
Karl Muller (9)
Kate Smurthwaite (10)
Stuart Campbell (11)
Andy Miller (12)
Peter Tindal (13)
1) Complained about an obviously pejorative attack on her as a blind and transgender person in the Sun. Upheld by IPSO but was not protected by IPSO from victimisation by the Sun, and IPSO failed to ensure the prominence of the apology that they had asked for.
2) Complained about an obviously inaccurate article in a Scottish newspaper. Upheld, but the correction was tiny compared to the damaging article.
3) Complained about a factual error in a banner headline on page 1 of the Express. IPSO said that because the inaccuracy was contradicted on an inside page it was fine.
4) Reiner Luyken complained about an article in a Scottish newspaper which grossly misquoted him as saying his neighbours were racist. He had not said that and it was clear that due to language issues he had asked for his quote to be checked with him. IPSO sided with the newspaper.
5) Ahmed Mian complained about an article in a local paper reporting a court case of his mothers estranged husband who had abducted their children. IPSO considered that confusing legal contest over contact arrangements with custody arrangements, and wrongly describing a Muslim woman as divorced were neither careless not significant inaccuracies.
6) Robert Bray complained about an incorrect headline and story in the Express online which misrepresented an opinion poll. IPSO’s remedy was a low visibility correction months later.
7) Linda Pearson complained about a Daily Star online article which falsely ridiculed her based on her medical condition. IPSO did not uphold the complaint as it failed to correctly read their own rules and the correction for inaccuracy was nowhere near equal prominence.
8) Laura Thomason complained about unsubstantiated health claims for bizarre alternative therapies in the Daily Telegraph. IPSO decided – ex cathedra – that if the column is labelled alternative health it is entitled to include factual falsehoods.
9) Karl Muller complained about a Telegraph article that misrepresented the contents of scientific paper and to a lesser degree the University’s press release. The Institute of Physics and the NHS agreed that the article was wrong and radically amended their coverage (based on the Telegraph article). IPSO redefined the laws of physics in order to back the Telegraph.
10) Kate Smurthwaite complained about the inaccuracy of a Telegraph story that attacked her reputation, and which was not even put to her ahead of publication. IPSO ruled that it did not even raise a potential breach of the code, so she was not allowed into the process.
11) Stuart Campbell was one of a number of Scots who complained (https://www.ipso.co.uk/IPSO/rulings/IPSOrulings-detail.html?id=38) against a misleading front page story in a Scottish newspaper which incorrectly stated that the devolved budget had been doubled. The complaint was obviously upheld but IPSO allowed the newspaper to bury a tiny correction on an inside page. Mr Campbell was not even informed of the outcome of the complaint.
12) Andy Miller successfully sued the Daily Mail for a vicious libel and won aggravated damages, The Mail never provided a fair and accurate repprt of the libel case (not even admitting that it was the newspaper in the case) in breach of Clause 1 (iv). IPSO decided that “fair and accurate” was whatever the Mail close to print. https://www.ipso.co.uk/IPSO/rulings/IPSOrulings-detail.html?id=138
13) Peter Tindal a mozzarella importer complained to IPSO about a Daily Mail story which distorted the news about animal welfare on Buffalo farms in parts of Italy. The Mail admitted one gross error, but IPSO failed to rule on it entirely. https://www.ipso.co.uk/IPSO/rulings/IPSOrulings-detail.html?id=18.
14) Member of the English National Opera orchestra – which was attacked inaccurately by The Spectator. The complaint was upheld but the correction and apology was changed by IPSO, behind his back, weeks after it had been signed off and ended up not having the word “correction” in it, and no apology.
15) A man whose house was wrongly described as that of a sex offender. A correction which the complainant said made it worse and which was retracted by the newspaper was deemed sufficient by IPSO.