Anyone who has experienced the regulatory régime, or more usually lack of it, supervised by sham press regulator IPSO knows that its first instinct is to wipe the press’ backsides, and if possible fob off the complainant with nothing more than a buried correction. So when IPSO forces a publication to print a long and detailed adjudication, that publication must have had no excuse for what it put out. And so it came to pass.
The Jewish Chronicle has told its readers “Following publication of four articles headlined ‘Ex-Militant Tendency activist accused of bullying Louise Ellman lied about date of birth to rejoin Labour’, published online on 25 February 2019; 'Plot to oust MP Ellman spearheaded by a former member of the Trotskyist Militant Tendency’, published online on 25 February 2019; ‘“Bullied” Louise Ellman nears exit’, published in print on 1 March 2019; ‘Labour MP Dame Louise Ellman “considering her future” in party amid rumours of more resignations’, published online on 1 March 2019, Audrey White complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Jewish Chronicle breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice”. And IPSO decided what, exactly?
“The complaint was upheld, and IPSO required the Jewish Chronicle to publish this adjudication”. There was no evidence to back up the claims that Ms White had been previously expelled from the Labour Party, that she had lied about her date of birth, and she had not bullied Louise Ellman, or indeed anyone else.
Worse, “The newspaper had produced no evidence to demonstrate that the complainant had been a member of the Socialist Party. The Committee did not accept that a person showing support for the values of a political Party, was the same as showing support by way of membership”. On top of that came a further rebuke.
Stephen Pollard, editor of the JC - but for how much longer?
“The Committee expressed significant concerns about the newspaper’s handling of this complaint. The newspaper had failed, on a number of occasions, to answer questions put to it by IPSO and it was regrettable the newspaper’s responses had been delayed. The Committee considered that the publication’s conduct during IPSO’s investigation was unacceptable”. For many publications, that would be editorial resignation territory.
Alongside publication of the stinging IPSO rebuke, the JC has also told readers “In February and March 2019, we published articles which made allegations about Mrs Audrey White, some of which were untrue. We have already published the IPSO adjudication in relation to these articles and have agreed to pay a sum in damages to Mrs White and her legal costs. We apologise for the distress caused”.
They didn’t withdraw, they didn’t apologise, and worst of all, the JC clearly treated their own regulator with disdain. And given that it has taken 11 months for the publication to agree to pay costs and damages, it’s clear not only that Ms White’s lawyers will have issued proceedings, but also that the whole process was extremely expensive.
The impression is given that the JC is acting like a rogue newspaper, putting out a series of totally untrue stories and taking a cavalier attitude to the facts.
Editor Stephen Pollard may not yet have resigned. But you can see it from there.APPEAL The Legalballs Fund: I made a mistake. Now I need to raise £16,500 to cover a legal bill. You can chip in to help me HERE - all help is gratefully received. Thanks for reading this far!