The Independent Press Standards Organisation was not independent: it was, ultimately, controlled by the press, which paid for it. It would not uphold press standards if it knew what was good for it. It was, therefore, a sham. IPSO and its supporters defended its behaviour. But now has come definitive proof that it is not fit for purpose.
It was the Jewish Chronicle whose behaviour brought the moment of truth: after the publication had once more defamed one of its targets, Merseyside councillor Jo Bird, she responded “IPSO has found nine breaches by the JC in the past three years. In the same period, the JC has paid complainants in at least four libel actions, including Marc Wadsworth last week. Clearly, there are deep-rooted unaddressed problems at the weekly paper. I urge IPSO to launch a formal Standards Investigation”.
That came in the wake of IPSO censuring the JC over its attitude to their investigation of a complaint by another Merseyside councillor, Audrey White, who, just to be on the safe side, took legal action against the JC which she won. IPSO compelled the JC to publish their entire adjudication. There was a pattern of publishing untrue stories, and an apparently cavalier attitude to complaints. An IPSO investigation seemed inevitable.
At the time, though, Zelo Street said this: “IPSO knows all too well what the JC is like when it comes to accuracy and the prompt addressing of complaints over the lack of it. But IPSO is also loath to take any action that will involve it in actually being an effective press regulator”. And so it came to pass that, all too predictably, no action was taken.
Jo Bird was disappointed, but not surprised. “By its refusal to take action against The Jewish Chronicle, IPSO has proved it is a sham. The JC breached IPSO’s Editors Code of Conduct 33 times and admitted libel 4 times in 3 years. IPSO is a sham ‘regulator' that always puts the press before ordinary people”. Instead of an investigation, IPSO said the JC should do more training. Which IPSO says all its members should do anyway.
At Byline Times, Brian Cathcart delivered a scathing conclusion. “No meaningful action, no investigation of the newspaper’s three-year spree of dishonest reporting, and therefore no fine. All the bold rhetoric of IPSO’s supporters down the years is thus conclusively proved to be empty. We were told that it was ‘the toughest press regulator in the western world’, yet it refuses to take action even against one of its smallest members”.
There was more. “The reality is that IPSO has been deliberately blind to a sustained crisis in British journalism that is recognised around the world. Its seven years of existence have seen wholesale lying by member publications … sustained campaigns of hatred and discrimination …multiple intrusions into private grief … This is what ‘self-regulation’ means in the UK press: no regulation at all”. IPSO has proved that Leveson changed nothing.
Campaigners said IPSO was a sham. Now they have been proved right. By IPSO.
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