As so often, in a campaign’s hour of need, the opposition rides to your rescue. Those who have spent so long in the search for properly accountable press regulation in the UK, and who have long made the point that sham regulator IPSO is not fit for purpose, were today informed by IPSO that, in not so many words, it was indeed not fit for purpose. Those at campaigning group Hacked Off may permit themselves a brief period of rejoicing.
What's so f***ing wrong with manipulating the Editor's Code for my own ends, c***?!? Er, with the greatest of respect, Mr Jay
IPSO’s confession comes after businesswoman Gina Miller, one of those who brought a successful legal challenge against the Government’s decision not to bother consulting Parliament before triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, had been deliberately and systematically monstered and abused by the press, and especially by the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre and his obedient hackery at the Daily Mail.
Ms Miller was subsequently advised by the Metropolitan Police to take security measures, especially after she received a series of death threats. She complained directly to the Dacre doggies, but as Andy Miller could have told her, that was pointless: the Dacre modus operandi is to shoo away complaints, suggesting that the complainant should sue them if they think they’re hard enough. So she complained to IPSO.
The article complained about is still online, sub-titled “Mrs Hedge Fund, a £5million divorce and a touch of Jackie Collins: The life story of the woman behind the action”. Ms Miller stated “that the article contained a number of prejudicial and pejorative references to her gender, which were discriminatory, in breach of Clause 12. She said that the article demeaned her achievements as an independent woman, cast doubt on her success”.
She also said “that as well as demeaning her achievements, the article focussed on her appearance. She objected to the reference to her as ‘a woman whose sultry appearances can turn heads’, noting that the word sultry means ‘titillating, salacious, erotic, sensual, lascivious’”. Ms Miller missed the Mail’s true intention there: “sultry” was dog-whistle code to remind its readers that the target of the hatchet job was not white.
IPSO dutifully waved away Gina Miller’s complaint, telling “the Code does not prevent criticism which is offensive to its subject; it requires that the press must not make prejudicial or pejorative references to an individual’s sex or gender. The Committee considered that the article did not contain a pejorative or prejudicial reference directed specifically at the complainant’s gender, in a manner which was discriminatory, such as to give rise to a breach of Clause 12. There was no breach of Clause 12”.
However, and here we encounter a game-changing however, the judgment then adds this coda: “This fully demonstrates how a critical article may, by the use of contempt, seek to belittle its subject in the eyes of the reader without any breach of the Editors’ Code. The descriptions of the complainant’s appearance and the speculation as to the reasons for her marriage appeared to be calculated to offend. But there are no provisions in the Code which protect the subject of this kind of criticism”.
In other words, IPSO has blown the whistle on the its own uselessness, and the Mail’s easy ability to manipulate that uselessness for its own ends. The Mail deliberately set out to offend and belittle. But the editor’s code let them get away with it. The custodian of that editor’s code for so many years? Paul Dacre. I’ll just leave that one there.