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Wednesday 4 February 2015

IPSO - It’s The Same PCC Piss

After the discredited Press Complaints Commission (PCC) effectively died of its own shame following its failures over the hacking scandals, the public was told that its successor would be truly independent, and would be different. The press really would have to sit up and take notice. But, as Captain Blackadder might have observed, there was only one thing wrong with this idea - it was bollocks.
(c) Steve Bell 2014

The so-called Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) is anything but independent. As with the PCC, it is kept on a tight funding leash by that part of the Fourth Estate that has signed up to it. The press effectively has the votes to impose its will on IPSO’s actions. And the much-vaunted “£1 million fine” has no more likelihood of being imposed that the £1 million bingo payout on Robert Maxwell’s Daily Mirror.

Moreover, the standard of industry apologia has not improved since PCC days: indeed, in wiping the not insubstantial arse of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre after a complaint was made about an article entitledEbola scare as woman dies at Gatwick”, it looks for all the world as if nothing has changed, right down to the impression being given that the Mail’s hacks were allowed to write the excuse note themselves.

A complaint was made under “Clause 1: accuracy”. IPSO’s judgment tellsThe complainant is the sister of the woman who died. She said that her sister was the only 72 year-old woman from Sierra Leone on the flight, and the article had inaccurately suggested to members of their community that she had contracted the Ebola virus. She also said that, contrary to assertions in the article, her sister had not lost her life at Gatwick Airport, but at a nearby hospital. Nor had the plane been quarantined”.

You might think that she had good grounds for complaining. The Mailapologised for the inconsistency in reporting in the first paragraph of the article that the complainant’s sister had died at Gatwick Airport, and then subsequently that she had died later in hospital. It said that this was due to time pressure on journalists”, but IPSO concluded this “did not represent a significant inaccuracy in breach of Clause 1”.

As to the “quarantined” claim, “A Gatwick Airport press release had confirmed that the aircraft, along with relevant airline and airport staff, had subsequently been ‘isolated’ as a precaution, and that passengers were not permitted to board the outbound flight. It was not therefore misleading to state that the aircraft had been ‘quarantined’ while tests were carried out”. It’s still use of pejorative language - there was no need for that.

Then there is the “suggestion” that the dead woman had contracted Ebola. Ah well. That’s only a bit of nudge-nudgery, which the Dacre doggies can shrug off. Their story didn’t actually make the accusation - it just did enough to give the readers that impression. And that is something they can still get away with.

Some distress was caused? Tough luck. The little people still don’t matter. IPSO does as the Mail wants - it lets it off the hook to continue pleasing itself. Same as with the PCC.

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