Those who look in regularly on Zelo Street may remember a post from October last year when I called out faithful Murdoch retainer Trevor Kavanagh for deliberately lying to Sun readers about unaccompanied refugee children. In a routine attack on those showing compassion for the less fortunate in the world, he had penned “Gary Lineker forgets that we’re not racist - we just don’t like being conned”.
Why did Kavanagh cross the road? He didn't - it was only an opinion piece
Yes, the Sun is not racist, BUT. We know. And it was when Kavanagh claimed “Home Office figures show two out of three of those elbowing their way to the front of the queue from Calais are lying about their age” that he went too far. The tireless Miqdaad Versi of the Muslim Council complained to press regulator IPSO - on whose board Kavanagh sits - that the Sun article was peddling falsehoods (no change there, then).
As Press Gazette has now reported, “Versi said that out of 3,472 asylum claims received, 933 individuals had their ages checked, and 636 were found to be adults, which represented 18.3 per cent of the total … He noted that a correction had been published in print, but was concerned that it had not been published online and the article had not been amended … After the matter was raised with IPSO The Sun changed the article and published a correction online”. Kavanagh lied, and IPSO confirmed he lied.
The significance of the ruling was underscored by Aisha Gani at BuzzFeed News: “The Press Watchdog Said Its Own Board Member Broke Its Accuracy Clause In His Column On Refugees … IPSO said Trevor Kavanagh had ‘failed to take care’ in interpreting official statistics”. The thought enters that it was rather more deliberate than that.
Miqdaad Versi is, however, unimpressed that it has taken four months for IPSO to come clean: “The integrity of Ipso is seriously undermined when its own Board takes four months to make a substantive statement on this issue - and when it does, its decision is deeply disappointing and has only happened because of my complaint … I recognise the theoretical value of having a journalist on IPSO’s board but is it too much to ask that the journalist is known to be responsible for their actions?”
And it gets worse for Kavanagh: although Versi’s complaint against his suggestion that Channel 4 News presenter Fatima Manji had been deliberately selected to read the news after the Nice truck massacre, telling “nobody seeing [Ms Manji] in full Muslim headdress could doubt it was provocative of Channel 4” (she had in fact been rostered to read the bulletin ten days before the attack), was rejected by IPSO, there was more.
Press Gazette again. “The IPSO board has issued its own statement slapping Kavanagh down … It said: ‘IPSO is committed to ensuring that individuals who believe that they have been wronged by the press are able to seek proper redress without fear of retribution or victimisation … In this instance, public comments by an IPSO board member brought the strength of this commitment into question. This should not have happened … The board has received an apology from the board member and an assurance that it will not happen again’”. Yes, IPSO has censured its own board member.
It is most unusual for a board member to have a judgment go against them and then be slapped down. So why is Kavanagh still on the IPSO board? Another $64k question.