Welcome To Zelo Street!

This is a blog of liberal stance and independent mind

Monday 7 March 2016

IPSO Kavanagh Spin Unravels

Press regulator IPSO, supposedly independent but in reality under the cosh of the press establishment, came under serious fire back in December when it appointed former Sun political editor and ultimate Murdoch insider Trevor Kavanagh to its board. One who passed severely adverse comment on the move was Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson. The Sun is still persona non grata across much of Merseyside.
Hillsborough memorial at Anfield

IPSO has now acknowledged Anderson’s intervention, and given its reply. As with so much about the press establishment, that reply reveals exactly why it remains unloved and untrusted by the public at large: it is evasive, dishonest, shows a complete lack of self-awareness, and ultimately treats the complainant with contempt. But let’s start at the very beginning, as it’s a very good place to start.

The IPSO letter starts reasonably enough, telling that Kavanagh “is on record as having said that he does not defend the newspaper’s Hillsborough coverage, for which they have repeatedly and rightly apologised … His role in the story, as a Westminster-based journalist remote from the newsroom, was to pass on what a senior Downing Street figure told him after the then Prime Minister’s visit to the stadium which tallied with what the police were telling journalists and news agencies in Sheffield at the same time”.

Then, after softening up its target, the misinformation begins: “You write that Mr Kavanagh accepts that appalling lies were published as headlines as a result of his doing. This is not true - he did not file copy, did not write any part of the story or the headline, and apart from a brief verbal conversation, played no further role”. Joe Anderson did not claim that Kavenagh filed copy or wrote any part of the Sun’s Hillsborough coverage.

He did say that “appalling lies were published as headlines as a result of his doing”. And “his doinginvolved passing on what he believed was something that would stand up the Sun’s infamous “THE TRUTH” front page, thereby encouraging then editor Kelvin MacKenzie to go ahead and publish. The result was, indeed, an appalling lie. And it was published as a direct result of Trevor Kavanagh’s “doing”. IPSO busted. And it gets worse.

The IPSO reply continues “Mr Kavanagh is very clear that those who died were completely innocent and it is worth quoting an article he wrote in October 2012 which states that that he believed he had been told the truth and that it was his job as Political Editor to pass on ‘… an apparently copper-bottomed corroboration for a major running story. After all, sources don’t come any higher than a Chief Constable and a Prime Minister’s most trusted colleague. It wasn’t until [the] devastating Hillsborough Independent Report that the REAL truth emerged - the despicable conspiracy at the heart of the South Yorkshire police’”.

No thanks, I don’t want to look over there. There was no need for anyone to have to wait for the Hillsborough Independent Panel - other papers that used the same story in the days after the disaster quickly realised their mistake and withdrew their claims. The Sun, instead, told complainants that, while readers may have disliked what they read, the story was part of an uncomfortable truth, and they would not be apologising.

So when IPSO conclude by saying “I appreciate completely the strongly held views of many people in Liverpool about The Sun’s article and Mr Kavanagh’s acknowledged role in it and our decision is in no way an attempt to ‘airbrush’ his involvement”, that is exactly what they are doing - airbrushing Kavanagh’s involvement in the Sun’s coverage, right down to lying about his actions in order to rebut Joe Anderson’s complaint.

If this is the level of honesty and openness that IPSO displays to free dissenting speech, it hardly engenders confidence in its ability to regulate the press in a way that inspires public support for its efforts. This is a disgraceful evasion, and IPSO must do better.


Anonymous said...


IPSO will not do better.

On this issue it is nothing but an apologist for a repulsive individual who was one of those responsible for one of the ugliest and most disgusting media assaults ever carried out on innocent, helpless victims.

The whole tone, let alone content, of their response is the most craven and cowardly concoction of misinformation and untruths even Murdoch's lackeys are capable of. Which is why, of course, Kavanagh fits right in.

IPSO is a morally corrupt tiny gang of useless apparatchiks. Bought and paid for at the expense of decency.

Anonymous said...

'After all, sources don’t come any higher than a Chief Constable and a Prime Minister’s most trusted colleague'.
Seems a little naïve for a political insider in that period, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

What about ofcom?

Have they been bought or intimidated in any way?

I can't understand how some of those tabloids are still allowed to operate.

Andy McDonald said...

@Anonymous at 19.43,

Yes, I've always wondered why a hard bitten cynic like Kelvin MacKenzie, inured to the honeyed tongues of the great and good, as dogged and cynical as a newsman can be, decided on that day of all days to take at their word 'the establishment'. I mean, why?

Oh yes, Scouser-bashing.

fendawg said...

Ofcom have never had any jurisdiction over the newspaper industry; they only cover non-BBC UK-based television and radio.

Anonymous said...

Like SKY? If not, why not?
Now do you understand?