IPSO RULING: DAILY MAIL MADE TO APOLOGISE FOR NOT FACT-CHECKING STORY SUPPLIED BY FREELANCE JOURNALIST

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Taken from the Daily Mail Clarifications & Corrections column, 24th March 2017. 

Following publication of an article on MailOnline on 25 October 2016, headlined “Pilot in DIY 14-foot plane he built in his shed is halted at Chinese border after being ruled a MILITARY THREAT during round-the-world trip”, Colin Hales complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that MailOnline breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice. The complaint was upheld, and IPSO required MailOnline to publish this adjudication.

The article reported that on the complainant’s bid to fly solo around the world in an aircraft he had built himself, he had been halted by Chinese officials at the Russian border who said the he “posed a serious aerial threat to the nation”. The article claimed that the complainant had been “halted by armed guards on the border with Russia”, and contained a number of quotations from the complainant, in which he expressed his frustration at having been stopped.

The complainant denied making the comments expressing frustration at the decision of the Chinese authorities. In addition, he said it was inaccurate to report that he had been stopped by “armed guards”.

The publication said that the article was supplied by a freelance journalist, and it had published it in good faith. It said that the article had been based on information posted on the internet, and on a source, who had supplied quotations from the complainant, having said that they had been in contact with him. However, it did not provide further details about its sources. The publication of information obtained in this manner as a series of direct quotations from the complainant, without any steps being taken to verify them, constituted a serious failure take care over the accuracy of the article, and a breach of Clause 1 (i). The claim that the complainant was stopped by armed guards was the conjecture of the journalist. However, this was presented as a factual claim, and was not clearly distinguished from conjecture, in further breach of Clause 1 (i) and a breach of Clause 1 (iv).

Attributing the disputed quotations to the complainant was significantly misleading, such as to require correction under the terms of Clause 1 (ii). The principal subject of the article was the complainant’s difficulty in entering Chinese airspace; to claim that the complainant had been “halted by armed guards”, when in fact, he had simply been denied permission to enter Chinese airspace, significantly misrepresented the nature of the incident. This was a further significant inaccuracy.

In this case the publication had offered to publish a correction which met the requirements of Clause 1 (ii), and the inaccuracies in this case were not personally damaging to the complainant. However, the Committee was concerned by the severity of the breach of Clause 1 (i) in this instance, which represented a serious failure in the editorial process prior to publication. It considered that the publication of the offered correction would not be an appropriate remedy to this failure, and that the appropriate remedy was publication of this adjudication.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.

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KATIE HOPKINS HAS FULL-ON MELTDOWN IN DAILY MAIL COLUMN ON WESTMINSTER ATTACK

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Few people would have been expecting Katie Hopkins to write anything sensible, rational, comforting or inspiring when she sat down to pen her Daily Mail column following the dreadful terror attack in Westminster yesterday. But the diatribe that appeared in today’s edition was utterly nuts even by her mad standards.

Katie started out by claiming that she felt ‘no anger’ and ‘no rage’ following what happened. She is beyond all that now, she wanted readers to know. Instead, she feels only exasperation and a hopeless resignation about the state of things.

However, this didn’t stop her going off on one. Uncontrollably so. She lashed out all over the place. Bizarrely, the one person who never received a tongue-bashing in the article was the actual culprit. The killer. The individual whose deranged actions caused the deaths of three innocent people.

No, he seemingly wasn’t to blame or at fault. Instead, Ms Hopkins let rip at a range of other figures and factors she felt were more deserving of her ire in a truly incoherent rant.

The first ones to cop it were, bafflingly, all the citizens of London who defiantly believe that this sort of cowardly and despicable behaviour will not beat them or get the better of them. They were quickly dismissed as ‘glib idiots’.

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Having dealt with all of the losers standing firm in the face of terror this side of the Channel, she turned her attention to Brussels and had a go at citizens who had gathered to commemorate the victims of the terror attacks there one year on. How dare they stand with their pathetic message of love and hope, when evil was about to happen a few hundred miles away!

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Then she moved onto the values of tolerance, liberalism and multiculturalism. All of them clearly to blame for everything. Some of us may have been under the illusion that these are things that characterise a healthy modern democracy, but apparently they’ve reduced London to a ‘city of monkeys’.

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Then, obviously, it was time to stick the boot into immigrants and immigration. Despite the fact that the killer was a British citizen born in Kent. Sod these facts, let’s have a go at Afghans and Somalis and Eritreans who all hate each other, we are told.

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This dovetailed nicely into an attack on Sadiq Khan who, we are reminded, is a Muslim mayor so clearly unfit for the job. It was obviously only a matter of time before one of his Muslim mates brought terror to the city. He’ll no doubt try and perk everyone up with a message of hope, the useless idiot.

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She’s on a roll now is Katie. What’s left to attack? Maybe the murderer who ended the lives of these three people? A few words of condemnation for him, perhaps? Nah, let’s throw in a dig at Sweden instead. Another bunch of useless liberal multicultural losers bringing this terrorism crap on themselves.

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And finally, time for a swipe at Muslims. Of course. Because this lunatic who drove a car at people and then stabbed a policeman to death, he and his ilk are not extremists. They’re just more committed Muslims. When will we wake up and realise that we need to blame the whole religion rather than the individuals who commit atrocities in the name of it?

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So she hates liberalism, tolerance and multiculturalism, mocks people who stand defiant in the face of terror and thinks that terrorist attackers are ‘more true to their beliefs’. Can someone please explain to me the difference between Katie Hopkins and ISIS?

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.

DAILY MAIL USES MARTIN McGUINNESS DEATH TO SCORE POLITICAL POINTS

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Trust the Daily Mail to cynically use the death of a political figure for its own ends.

The former IRA terrorist turned politician and peace process negotiator (pictured) died on Monday night. His death was followed by tributes from a range of political figures from Britain, Northern Ireland and even the US.

Most were careful to say that, while you can’t overlook or condone his involvement in terror attacks from his past, you have to acknowledge the role he played in the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland in 1998.

Tributes were paid to McGuinness from, among others, Prime Minister Theresa May, Tony Blair, former US president Bill Clinton and DUP leader Arlene Foster. Even the Queen, who shook McGuinness’ hand in 2012, sent a message of support to his widow.

Yet despite the fact that figures from across the political spectrum paid their respects, the Daily Mail chose to single out Jeremy Corbyn and the BBC and criticise them as if they were terrorist sympathisers.

The paper has repeatedly stuck the boot into left-winger Corbyn ever since he became Labour leader and has become more and more critical of the BBC in the months since the EU referendum, viewing the corporation as being biased towards the liberal ‘remainer’ attitudes it dislikes so much.

The article singling out Corbyn noted the public ‘fury’ (i.e. a few people outraged on Twitter) at his ‘warm tribute for IRA killer’.

The paper tried to imply that the ‘glowing’ tribute was fawning and one-sided. But the full statement released by Corbyn acknowledged that McGuinness had spent ‘years as a key protagonist in the tragedy of the conflict’.

The article on the Beeb was even more desperate, little more than an exercise in trawling through Twitter to find a handful of people criticising the news coverage.

One tweeter was quoted as saying the BBC were treating McGuinness ‘like he was on par with Nelson Mandela’. The irony being that Mandela himself was denounced by the Daily Mail, who wrote at the time of the concert to mark his 70th birthday while in jail in 1988: ‘The ANC and its leader Nelson Mandela have no more claim to be saints or heroes than do the Provisional IRA with their lynch mobs and car bombers’.

As the Daily Mail has so clearly tried to manipulate the death of McGuinness to stick the boot in, it seems like a good time to remind people once again that the paper once openly supported fascism and was owned by a man who was a personal friend of Adolf Hitler.

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Daily Mail article from 1934 (above) by founder and owner at the time Lord Rothermere (pictured below with Adolf Hitler)

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Not exactly in the best position to try and take the moral high ground on these issues, then.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.

THE SUN LABELS INNOCENT MAN A CHILD RAPIST

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(Glasgow High Court. Copyright Stephen Sweeney)

The Sun has labelled an innocent 21-year-old man a child rapist in a typically sensationalist report on a court case in Glasgow this week.

The tabloid’s headline was the worst of a sorry bunch concerning the court case of Polish-born student Daniel Cieslak, who had consensual sex aged 19 with a 12-year-old girl who he believed to be 16.

The girl in question has never claimed that the sex was non-consensual. However, she confided to her sister a few days later that she was worried she might be pregnant and her GP told her to contact the police. Cieslak, who broke down in tears when told by the police of the girl’s true age, pleaded guilty to rape as girls under 13 are considered by the law to be too young to give consent. However, he maintained the sex was consensual.

He was found not guilty of rape after the judge considered the evidence, which included the fact that all witnesses to the case and the police believed that the girl was aged at least 16 by appearance, and that the girl has never claimed the sex was non-consensual and had shown no signs of distress or concern at any time.

The judge also said that there was no suggestion of ‘predatory conduct or grooming or manipulation or deception’.

However, this didn’t stop The Sun covering the story with the headline ‘CHILD RAPIST WALKS FREE’, writing that ‘man who admits raping schoolgirl, 12, walks free from court because he thought she was 16’.

The Sun was not alone with its misleading clickbait-style headline, it was merely the worst offender. The Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the Metro, the Daily Mirror and the Independent all went with headlines that misleadingly state that Cieslak raped or admitted raping the girl.

A number of the articles led with the angle of ‘over-lenient judge allows rapist to go free’. But, whatever the wrongs of getting yourself into the position of having sex with someone of that age (no matter how old they look), to treat the guy as a sex offender who gets to walk free because of silly liberal judges is to completely misreport the story.

Cieslak met the girl and her friend in 2015 at a taxi rank in Edinburgh at 4am after a night out. The three then went to a house party together where Cieslak and the girl ended up having sex.

The judge said that Cieslak had been ‘subject to considerable pressure and distress from the burden of this prosecution’. He dropped out of a architectural engineering course at Napier University as a result of the stress.

No doubt seeing his name in the likes of The Sun next to headlines saying ‘child rapist’ is just what he needs as he tries to put it all behind him and get on with his life.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.