A report published today is calling for an independent EHRC investigation into The Times newspaper and its coverage of Britain’s Muslim communities, specifically in respect of three stories.
The report looks at three sensational investigations that exposed ‘scandals’ involving Muslim individuals. These were often front-page stories in The Times, and repeated in other publications. Two experienced journalists found that the scandals exposed in fact did not happen and that basic journalistic standards were sacrificed to create these stories.
The authors have said that the “evidence suggesting an anti-Muslim editorial policy at The Times is strong enough to warrant an independent investigation.”
Hacked Off Executive Director Kyle Taylor, responding to the report, said:
“This report chronicles three major stories by a single journalist all of which contain allegations against a specific community. It is notable that each of these error-strewn articles were written by the same journalist and all have the effect of vilifying Muslims. This looks very like a campaign targeted at Muslim communities.
“But set aside the apparent ideological agenda for a moment and consider the layers of journalistic incompetence at the title which chose to publish these stories.
“Some of the false information in these stories were not only the work of a senior journalist but must also have passed through layers of sub-editing and senior editorial review. Those responsible are people whose job it is to truthfully inform the public and yet multiple distortions and misleading facts appeared in each article.
It would have only required one or two people to do their job properly to root those out, albeit undermining the story, in each case.”
Hacked Off Policy Director Nathan Sparkes, on the failures of regulation, added:
“Instead of joining a regulator, The Times remains a member of industry association and complaints-handler IPSO, which has failed to adequately remedy the code breaches in each of these stories. To protect the reputation of the paper and to show commitment to preventing these catastrophic lapses in competence from recurring, The Times must join or establish an independent recognised regulator immediately.
“IPSO is complicit in the demonisation of Muslims and other minority groups across the UK by virtue of its failure to change the standards code and to enforce it fairly. While it often cannot launch investigations, what this episode has shown is that even when it can, it chooses not to.
“Parliament must ensure that all major news outlets are independently regulated – free of government and corporate influence – under the system for Recognised independent media regulation administered by the Press Recognition Panel.
Furthermore, the Independent Directors at The Times must refer the company for an independent inquiry from the equalities watchdog to consider whether institutional Islamophobia exists at the title.”
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