UPDATE: Surprise surprise – IPSO, the Mail and the Sun refuse to consider the complaint. See email at bottom.
Independent Press Standards Organisation
1 Farringdon Street
I am writing to complain about misleading and inaccurate material published by the Sun and the Daily Mail – as well as the disrespectful and dishonest behaviour of a press photographer.
On this year’s Remembrance Sunday, the 13th of November 2016, two distorted and misleading articles and photographs were published by the Sun and the Mail about Her Majesty’s Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn’s attendance of the Cenotaph Service commemorating Britain’s war dead.
The articles and photographs appeared online and possibly in print and were headlined: ‘Is this really the day to audition for Strictly, Jeremy?‘ (the Mail) and ‘Jeremy Corbyn DANCES his way into Downing Street as he attends Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph‘ (the Sun). Screenshots of both articles and the misleading photographs are attached (attachments 1, 2).
A photograph was deliberately edited by photographer Steve Back (attachment 3) to exclude a war veteran, and was subsequently used by Alain Tolhurst (The Sun) and Tim Sculthorpe (The Mail) to dishonestly and inaccurately claim that Jeremy Corbyn was dancing when in fact he was talking to the war veteran, Mr George Durack (attachment 4).
On a day which is supposed to commemorate the memory of Britain’s fallen heroes – journalists and photographers choosing to lie under the guise of a ‘news’ article for petty party political reasons is an insult to and disrespectful to the memory of Britain’s estimated 1,275,856 armed forces war dead, who gave their lives in the service of their country.
This appalling behaviour not only insults the memory of our fallen heroes, but also serves to belittle the solemnity and seriousness of the Cenotaph Service, the commemorations and Remembrance Sunday itself.
With relevance to IPSO, the articles and photograph also happen to break codes 1i, 1ii, 1iii and 1iv of the editors’ code of conduct:
i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text.
- The images and articles were inaccurate, misleading and distorted
ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and — where appropriate — an apology published. In cases involving IPSO, due prominence should be as required by the regulator.
- The misleading articles were deleted, but were not corrected with any “due prominence” and no apologies published.
iii) A fair opportunity to reply to significant inaccuracies should be given, when reasonably called for.
- No right to reply to the distortions was given by either publication
iv) The Press, while free to editorialise and campaign, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.
- The articles were clearly an attempt to campaign against a political party and a political leader under the guise of news.
I am not making this complaint on behalf of Mr Corbyn or Mr Durack. I am making this complaint on behalf of the estimated 1,275,856 armed forces war dead who are commemorated on Remembrance Sunday, and whose memory was scandalously tainted by attempts by leading British newspapers and supposedly professional journalists to reduce to the level of petty modern party politics the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
I have assurance from your own CEO Mr Matt Tee, that in “some circumstances” complaints can be made by 3rd parties on behalf of others (attachment 5).
I presume the fact that the 1,275,856 are dead – and therefore unable to make the complaint themselves – will serve as appropriate enough circumstances for IPSO.
I feel it would be appropriate for the newspapers – as well as the two journalists and the photographer in person – to publish a correction and an apology for their disrespectful behaviour with due prominence.
This would also be a good opportunity for IPSO members to categorically pledge once and for all that they will finally put a stop to petty party politicking on Remembrance Sunday and in future never allow the commemorations of Britain’s war dead to be used by journalists as part of their political campaigning.
I look forward to your quick resolution of this very serious and important matter.
tompridespurge @ gmail.com
Reply from IPSO:
The Committee has now considered this matter.
In accordance with IPSO’s regulations, in determining whether to take forward these complaints under Clause 1, the Committee took into account the position of the party most closely involved. As the alleged inaccuracy related directly to Jeremy Corbyn and what he was doing when photographed, the Committee took the view that it would not be possible or appropriate to consider these complaints further without his input. As such, the Committee did not consider these complaints further.
The Committee would like to thank you for giving it the opportunity to consider your concerns.