Faithful Murdoch retainer, dishonesty specialist and purveyor of crude and bullying hit-jobs Trevor Kavanagh left the board of sham press regulator IPSO after just two years of a three year appointment; he had effectively been sacked. What was not told at the time was the full story of why he had been sacked, but after the news of another non-trivial problem about to hit Matt Tee and his merry men, we have a better idea why he went.
Why did Kavanagh cross the road? Because Rupert Murdoch made it known that it was in his interests to do so
During Kav’s tenure, IPSO actually had to censure one of their own. He flagrantly abused his position in order to back up his Sun colleague, disgraced former editor Kelvin McFilth, who had gone in with both feet on Channel 4 News presenter Fatima Manji for having the audacity to present the news while wearing a headscarf. IPSO, though, let both of them off when the inevitable complaints rolled in. The next challenge may be more difficult.
As the Guardian has reported, “The Independent Press Standards Organisation is facing the first legal challenges to its rulings, including one over a column in the Sun that referred to ‘the Muslim problem … The threat of bringing the press watchdog, founded in 2014, before the courts raises fundamental questions about media regulation and Ipso’s public accountability”. And what has caused these legal challenges?
“One of the challenges is being brought by Rachel Elgy, an expert in equality training and a part-time student, who complained about a comment piece by Trevor Kavanagh, the Sun’s former political editor … Ipso ruled in October that the column did not breach accuracy or discrimination clauses in the editors’ code of practice. It said Kavanagh ‘was entitled to speculate on the validity of the status of refugees entering Germany, and the reference to ‘a million more so-called refugees’ was clearly presented as his speculation”.
Fatima Manji - target of tabloid bigotry
But one small item had been omitted in IPSO’s analysis, and that was Kavanagh’s talk of “The Muslim Problem”, echoing “The Jewish Problem” of Nazi infamy. Kav claimed afterwards that “I can honestly say it never occurred to me that this could be interpreted as a play on ‘the Jewish problem’ and I will happily apologise to anyone who is thus offended”. And I can honestly say that he’s a lying SOB.
Ms Elgy has added “It feels like journalists regulated by Ipso feel they can say anything and they are protected. It ends up with them seeming to be above the law … A press standards organisation should be finding where journalists are not upholding good standards. That should be [its] role”. IPSO wipes press backsides no shock horror.
The Guardian continued “Her claim alleges that Ipso’s ruling is flawed because the article was inaccurate, discriminatory and could incite hatred. It says Ipso’s conclusions were flawed under its code and inconsistent with previous rulings”. That, though, is to misunderstand what IPSO is about. And it is not about consistency. It is about excusing those who pay the bills - that being the press establishment.
But getting rid of Kavanagh was clearly a pre-emptive move in readiness for an Olympian hand-washing exercise. So now we know why Kav had to go, and go when he did. The only pity is that IPSO allowed itself to be strong-armed into allowing him into their tent in the first place, but that, once more, is another sign of its lack of independence.
IPSO is a sham. The Kavanagh affair proves it. Bring on the legal challenge.