To err is human, and nowhere was this more keenly observed by many in the press recently than when someone at campaigning group Hacked Off made the mistake of claiming that website The Canary was one of the news sources to be regulated by truly independent press regulator Impress. The mistake was admitted, and the publication in which it was made will carry an addendum pointing out the error.
An unsavoury sleazebag airs his views
In other words, Hacked Off came clean, as Evan Harris made clear in a letter published in the latest issue of Private Eye magazine, where he pointes out that “Unlike some, we have not sought to bury a correction on Page 94 but instead have published a correction prominently on our website”. This, though, was not good enough for the Sun’s alleged “Westminster Correspondent” Master Harry Cole.
“Gosh. Press ‘ethics’ group Hacked Off caught red handed making up a quote in their magazine. Completely fabricated” he observed yesterday morning, instantly generating ridicule on Twitter, and for rather obvious reasons. Master Cole does not do accidental errors of judgment, and nor does he apologise after being caught. For him, lying is as natural as drawing breath, and getting away with it the ultimate promise.
Indeed, one can compare and contrast easily: Harris’ reaction to discovering an error had been made by Hacked Off, put alongside Cole’s behaviour after being caught. Last September, Cole was responsible for a front page Sun splash titled “COURT JEZTER” (geddit?!?), which claimed Jeremy Corbyn’s position as Leader of the Opposition would be in jeopardy if he did not become a member of the Privy Council.
The article also claimed that Privy Council membership was necessary for the Parliamentary Labour Party to access more than £6 million of what is known as “Short money”. Neither claim had even the most fleeting relationship with the truth: Cole’s article was a pack of lies from start to finish. But unlike Hacked Off, neither he, nor the Sun, were prepared to come clean, even after IPSO received a barrage of complaints.
Master Cole has still not uttered a word of apology. But IPSO bowed to the inevitable, and the Sun was forced to indicate a correction from its front page, although this was buried at the bottom left of the page. The judgment made for lamentable reading: “The newspaper had not offered a correction promptly and therefore had failed to comply with its obligations under Clause 1 (ii). The Committee required the publication of an adjudication”. Do go on.
“The misleading information identified was repeated throughout the article, and appeared as the lead story on the newspaper’s front page. It was significantly misleading, formed the principal basis for the personal criticism of Mr Corbyn set out in the article, and resulted from a significant failure to take care not publish misleading information, given that the factors that formally affect the allocation of Short money were known to the newspaper”.
In other words, Cole and his pals knew it was a pack of lies, but ran it anyway, then refused to budge when they were rumbled. And this amateur human being now wants to sit in judgment on Hacked Off. Er, no.