Press regulator finds Jewish Chronicle guilty of multiple breaches of Editors’ Code

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) has found the Jewish Chronicle – the source of numerous allegations of antisemitism against the Labour Party – guilty on four counts of publishing untrue statements about a Corbyn supporter on Merseyside.

Yesterday, 29th November, we published an adjudication summary from the IPSO committee which the Jewish Chronicle was forced to publish.

Here Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi sets this judgment in context

Press regulator finds Jewish Chronicle guilty of multiple breaches of Editors’ Code

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi
30 November 2019

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) has found the Jewish Chronicle – the source of numerous allegations of antisemitism against the Labour Party – guilty on four counts of publishing untrue statements about a Corbyn supporter on Merseyside.

The “significantly misleading claims” published by journalist Lee Harpin and the Jewish Chronicle included the accusation that veteran activist Audrey White and others had ‘bullied’ local MP Louise Ellman by acting as “a group of militants who repeatedly interrupted the MP” during a constituency meeting; as well as claims that Audrey had “lied about her age” to re-join the Labour Party; was previously “expelled from the Labour Party” and a “former member of the Socialist Party.”

A statement by Merseyside Pensioners’ Association (full text below), of which White is a member, welcomed the IPSO findings in “upholding the complaint by one of our members against the Jewish Chronicle for publishing smears and falsehoods against Labour activists in Liverpool.”

“The findings make clear that the reporting of the Jewish Chronicle and journalist Lee Harpin fall far below the professional and ethical standards expected of journalists working today — particularly as pertains to accuracy and fact-checking (the most basic principles of reporting).”

The Jewish Chronicle has been obliged to publish an adjudication summary from the IPSO committee which investigated Audrey White’s complaints. It concludes:

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. The Committee’s concerns have been drawn to the attention of IPSO’s Standards department.

The full adjudication is to be found here.

This is not the first time the Jewish Chronicle has been found wanting by the press watchdog.

In April 2019 it was forced to publish an IPSO ruling in the case of pro-Palestinian writer Tom Suarez. The ruling said there had been a failure to take care over accuracy in breach of Clause 1(i) of the editors’ code, and:

“This failure to take care gave rise to a significantly misleading impression of the complainant’s expressed views, on an extremely sensitive subject.”


PRESS RELEASE FROM MERSEYSIDE PENSIONERS’ ASSOCIATION 

– Nov 28, 2019

 

Anti-Labour smears of Jewish Chronicle exposed by Independent Press Standards

Merseyside Pensioners Association welcomes the findings of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) in upholding the complaint by one of our members against the Jewish Chronicle for publishing smears and falsehoods against Labour activists in Liverpool.

Audrey White, who was nominated as one of BBC Radio 4’s ‘100 most influential women of the century’ (for defending women from sexual abuse in the workplace) was targeted by the Jewish Chronicle with a litany of lies and falsehoods reported by Lee Harpin – an ex-News of the World journalist arrested in connection with the phone-hacking scandal.

Harpin penned four separate articles containing incendiary and unsubstantiated claims discrediting the 68-year-old pensioner and Labour activist from Liverpool, Riverside. IPSO’s committee stated that “the publication’s (Jewish Chronicle) conduct during IPSO’s investigation was also unacceptable” and has been escalated to IPSO’s Standards Department.

The “significantly misleading claims” published by Harpin and the Jewish Chronicle included the accusation that Audrey (and other activists) had ‘bullied’ local MP Louise Ellman by acting as “a group of militants who repeatedly interrupted the MP” during a constituency meeting; as well as claims that Audrey had “lied about her age” to re-join the Labour Party; was previously “expelled from the Labour Party” and a “former member of the Socialist Party.”

Evidence provided to IPSO, including a recording, exposed these reportings to be patently false and “significantly misleading.” Malcolm Kennedy ex-Lord Mayor of Liverpool also fed the smears by ludicrously comparing one Labour constituency meeting to a ‘Soviet show trial’ — audio recordings of the event found that this too was “significantly misleading” and that constituency meetings were not “rowdy” as characterised by the paper.

The Jewish Chronicle also reported that Audrey had made a “false claim” that a local Labour Councillor was under police investigation for taunting a disabled Corbyn-supporting pensioner who suffers from cancer. Evidence from Merseyside Police’s Hate Crime Unit provided to the Press Standards Investigation concluded that it was “not false to make this claim” and that the publication had provided a “serious and misleading impression of Audrey’s conduct towards Labour politicians.” This conclusion is particularly welcomed by our organisation as the “disabled pensioner” is critically acclaimed photographer and filmmaker Phil Maxwell, a valued member of the Merseyside Pensioners Association.

The findings make clear that the reporting of the Jewish Chronicle and journalist Lee Harpin fall far below the professional and ethical standards expected of journalists working today — particularly as pertains to accuracy and fact-checking (the most basic principles of reporting).

Merseyside Pensioners Association has itself been a target of the Jewish Chronicle and we condemn the personal attacks, fake news and fabrications employed by this journal (and others) to peddle the narrative that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party has been overrun by ‘militants’ and/or is ‘institutionally anti-Semitic.’ Tragically anti-Semitism continues to exist across society (as well as all major political parties) and politically motivated misreporting of this nature undermines serious efforts to tackle racism in all its forms.

The adjudication in particular exposes the divisive and politically-motivated tactics being used by certain areas of the press and Labour Party to promote the impression that Louise Ellman MP was ‘bullied‘ out of the Labour Party by local activists. Not only does irresponsible journalism like this smear innocent people, it creates division within our communities and tarnishes the reputation of our city (Liverpool) — a city all-too-familiar with the willingness of powerful and unaccountable newspapers to slur ordinary people (without reply).

The MPA congratulates Audrey in persevering with a nine month struggle to clear her name and we look forward to the Jewish Chronicle publishing the remedy as mandated by the ruling. We also ask for a suspension of these kind of politically motivated press-smears against Labour activists, as we fight an election for the Corbyn-led Labour government our country needs.

 

 

Comments (6)

  • Philip Ward says:

    The problem is that there appear no consequences for publications that fall foul of IPSO rulings, so there is nothing to prevent the JC from publishing further lies. Let’s see what they come up with in the next 11 days.

  • Irene Brennan says:

    Congratulations to Audrey and Riverside members for their brave campaign against smears and slanders and its victorious conclusion in the welcome findings of the IPSO report. Once again Liverpool leads the way!.

  • Audrey is a legend in her own lifetime. What the Jewish Chronicle did to her, which they have done to numerous people, is unforgiveable but this time they were found out.

    Their arrogance is breathtaking but it comes from having run a completely dishonest campaign of disinformation for the past 4 years and being allowed to get away with it

  • J..kelly says:

    Once again Jewish Chronicle publishes untruths…. Ipso adjudication on Riverside ward travails of Miss Ellman …When can we hear a retraction?…I fear rubbish such as this will cause more friction in Liverpool…or is this the object of the people who publish such rubbish ?

  • You might have expected Lee Harpin to be chastened by the ruling. Far from it. He doesn’t acknowledge it even existing and is back on the front foot with ludicrous accusations, and false claims. A couple of weeks ago he accused me of being a ‘cheerleader for Soros’ – an accusation that is not only absurd but also one plucked from the alt Right’s phrase book. He refuses to acknowledge that this is an antisemitic slur. Then, only today, Lee ‘liked’ a tweet from someone who had mocked a phrase of mine ‘persecution of people of colour’.

    Think that through. I suggested that this government had persecuted people of colour. Someone with a fairly dodgy timeline mocked that by putting in a ‘lols’ in reply. Lee Harpin ‘liked’ that.

    When I pointed this out to him, he accused me of being a ‘fool’ for thinking that he had liked it, and that I had ‘lost my grip on reality’. ‘I haven’t even seen the tweet’, he wrote.

    Several people then tweeted back to Lee the ‘like’. It was there for all to see. People are rather good at screen grabbing these things. I reminded Lee that it was indeed him who had ‘liked’ this nasty ‘lols’ mocking my observation that people of colour had been persecuted. Whereupon Lee went quiet, and then blocked me.

    I can only think that the aggression and paranoia running through the offices of the Jewish Chronicle at the moment, has led them to think that the ends justify the means. They are perhaps running a fantasy of themselves being shtarker Jews standing up to some kind of Nazi-Stalinist conspiracy that will wipe Jews out from Britain. Alternatively, they have run with the editor’s fantasy that this is all about a ‘battle to save Western Civilisation’ and the ‘Left in any form’ is the ‘enemy’. (Pollard 2006).

    Perhaps the Chronicle would like to ally themselves with the far Right Jews in the US, like Ben Shapiro or Joel Pollak who recently accused Democrat Jews of a Jewish conspiracy to impeach Trump. (I kid you not. It’s all online.)

    We said at the outset of the whole Corbyn drama around Jews that rippling along underneath was a battle for the hearts and minds of unattached Jews in Britain who had become disaffected with Israel and the strident demands of the Jewish leadership to follow the Israeli government position on everything. A scare about antisemitism is of course one way to draw Jews together and when that scare is legitimate and true then pulling together is no bad thing. But to my mind, the pulling together on this occasion has been led by this demand to ‘save Western Civiliasion’ and to slot as many Jews as possible in behind a Tory, alt Right, ‘economic nationalist’ viewpoint.

    But, you cry, the alt Rights are antisemitic. Aha, I reply, if it’s antisemitism against left wing Jews who don’t buy the official narrative on Israel, then it’s a job worth doing.

    Nasty times, folks.

  • Malcolm Thwaite says:

    Well called out by ipso and JVL for exposing the lies published by the zionist Jewish Chronicle

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