Belfast Telegraph

Ipso proves it can stand up to big boys with Jeremy Corbyn ruling

By Paul Connolly

Ipso, the new Press watchdog, continues to make progress, despite having more enemies than Donald Trump's speechwriter.

In a development that should have received more media coverage than it did, Ipso forced the Sun to print a front page correction three days before Christmas.

The Express was forced into a similar move a week previously for a daft story suggesting that English was starting to die out in schools.

As someone with previous experience of trying to get a UK national newspaper to correct an error, I know what an achievement this is.

Ipso ruled that a Sun story, about the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn being willing to join the Privy Council because his party stood to gain financially from the move, contained "significantly misleading" claims.

The Sun (sometimes known in Mockney rhyming slang as the Currant Bun) reported that Corbyn "will kiss the Queen's hand on bended knee in a humiliating personal climbdown".

Accompanied by a mocked-up photo of Corbyn in a jester's hat, the paper said he had become a privy counsellor so he can "grab £6.2m" of state cash.

"Leftie who hates the Royals WILL kiss Queen's hand to grab £6.2m" snarled the headline in typical attack-dog tabloid style.

The story did make clear the money, to fund opposition parties and known as Short money, went to the Labour party and not to any single person.

A former Labour party staff member complained about the story's inaccuracies.

Ipso investigated and subsequently found that there was not a formal connection between Corbyn's position on the council and the allocation of funding for opposition parties.

It said, therefore, that the story was inaccurate and in contravention of Clause one of the Editor's Code of Conduct.

The misleading information was contained on the Sun's front page, and Ipso ordered that notice of the adjudication also appear on the front of the paper.

The Sun printed 11 words in the bottom left corner of the front page of its December 22 edition, with the rest of the adjudication appearing on page two.

The Guardian duly noted that the space accorded on the Sun's front page measured "roughly 15mm by 35mm" compared to the sizeable "splash' of the original story and said the headline, "Ipso complaint on Labour short money is upheld", was printed in capitals in smaller font than its other front page headlines.

I applaud Ipso's Sun and Express rulings. This is a significant advance on the old Press Complaints Commission position. However, more thought should be given to positioning and font sizes.

Editors, especially on tabloid papers, will naturally try to bury front page corrections and mucking about with positioning and font size is fairly irresistible to them. Standard font size should be used.

Many eloquent words have been written and said about Liam Clarke, this paper's Political Editor, who died suddenly just after Christmas, and there's little I can add that will do his memory justice.

Suffice to say, he was an incredibly courageous journalist with formidable analytical skills. He was also a much-loved colleague and mentor to many a young, and not so young, reporter.

Liam's ability to cut through the nonsense and get to the heart of a story is gone, and our political and media landscape will be infinitely the poorer without it.

Belfast Telegraph

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