Skwawkbox and Canary cleared after smear campaign against them

JVL Introduction

In January we reposted Tim Fenton’s Zelo Street blog John Mann’s Regulation Howler.

This concerned leaks from a new study carried out by King’s College London for the Government’s Independent Adviser on Antisemitism Lord John Mann.

Claims were being made that the Canary and Skwawkbox websites promote “heavily negative coverage of Jewish issues” to audiences that are “associated with antisemitism”.

IMPRESS, the post-Levenson regulatory body, decided to look into these claims and has just announced its findings.

Its report is a total vindication of the Canary and Skwawkbox.

It found that the material assessed did not amount to discrimination against Jewish people, was not sensationalist and did not use language that was likely to provoke hatred or put a person or group in fear, not does it appear to have been intended to have that effect.

Skwawkbox editor Steve Walker said: “Mr Mann should direct his energies to the very real antisemitism and Islamophobia that exists on the right – and not only the far right. The Labour right to which he previously belonged has a sorry record in its treatment of Muslims and GRT communities.

This article was originally published by Skwawkbox on Thu 25 Nov 2021. Read the original here.

UK’s independent press regulator dismisses Mann/KCL smears against Skwawkbox and Canary

After more than 7 months of detailed examination, IMPRESS finds left publications acted entirely in accord with ethical journalism standards and dismisses lurid claims of ‘conspiracy theories’ and antisemitism, concluding there is nothing further to investigate

IMPRESS, the UK’s Leveson-compliant press regulator, has dismissed the lurid claims of an ‘academic’ report commissioned by right-winger and Tory-made peer John Mann – and reported on even more luridly by the right-wing Jewish Chronicle, which has frequently paid out large sums in damages for libellous attacks on the left – that tries to equate left media publications Skwawkbox and The Canary with right-wing extremists and antisemitism.

Critics have long pointed out the contortions the report’s writers had performed in order to try to reach their conclusions – and the fact that even then the leaps of supposed logic were huge. For example, any indication that a Israel or a ‘major Jewish organisation’ might have done something wrong was taken as a warning flag – as if Israel and major organisations are incapable of wrongdoing and can only be criticised antisemitically.

The report concluded on its own basis that so-called mainstream news should be promoted at the ‘expense’ of non-Establishment sources ‘in the interests of reducing prejudice’. Mann, of course, used this conclusion to call for punitive measures and ‘enforcement powers’ against sites he is already on the record as disliking.

As would be expected of a proper independent regulator, IMPRESS decided on its own initiative that it should look into the claims of the report against two of the publications it regulates and contacted both Mann and the report’s two authors before spending some seven months looking at their claims.

And it has this week announced its findings: there is nothing further to investigate. Despite the report’s authors submitting nine more articles as ‘evidence’ for their claims than appeared in their report, both Skwawkbox and the Canary acted entirely within the bounds of ethical journalism.

And IMPRESS’s own report on the matter, which is now available on its website, notes that some of the ‘evidence’ submitted was about articles that were not even written by either Skwawkbox or The Canary:

Of the 42 items considered, the Committee determined that 5 items were not within its remit to consider as they were… material not published by the relevant publishers

The report also noted that neither Mann nor the report’s authors submitted any complaint to IMPRESS about any of the articles in question. In an earlier case, in which Mann went after the University and College Union (UCU), the Tribunal dismissed the case, noting that Mann:

told us that the leaders of the Respondents were at fault for the way in which they conducted debates but did not enlighten us as to what they were doing wrong or what they should be doing differently. He did not claim ever to have witnessed any Congress or other UCU meeting.

And when it came to antiSemitism in the context of debate about the Middle East, he announced, “It’s clear to me where the line is …” but unfortunately eschewed the opportunity to locate it for us.

Both parliamentarians clearly enjoyed making speeches. Neither seemed at ease with the idea of being required to answer a question not to his liking.

And the IMPRESS committee, having communicated at length with Mann and the authors since early this year, concluded:

the [IMPRESS] Code enshrines the freedom of news publishers to investigate and report on significant events, policies and controversies, expose wrongdoing, challenge unfairness and satirise, and amuse and entertain, where they do so in accordance with ethical standards of journalism.

The Committee considered that all the material assessed was within these parameters and did not amount to discrimination against Jewish people…

The Committee considered that the material is not sensationalist and does not use language that is likely to provoke hatred or put a person or group in fear, not does it appear to be intended to have that effect. Those that disagree with the Publisher’s views on subjects such as Zionism may find these views offensive, adversarial or provocative but this in and of itself does
not rise to the level of threat to, or targeting of, persons or groups on the basis of their protected characteristics

Skwawkbox editor Steve Walker said:

The IMPRESS decision is of course welcome, but I believe it was always clear that the motives of this whole charade were political and I’m not alone in that opinion. We warned back in 2019 when John Mann became a peer that the left media would be at the top of his hit list, including the Canary even though it was founded by Jewish journalists.

Mr Mann, or Lord Mann as he likes to be called according to his Twitter handle, has a long record of enmity toward Skwawkbox and the left media, which have highlighted his own actions and his own displays of contempt toward Gypsy Roma and Traveller people, which caused them deep hurt and even led to him being interviewed by police.

Mr Mann should direct his energies to the very real antisemitism and Islamophobia that exists on the right – and not only the far right. The Labour right to which he previously belonged has a sorry record in its treatment of Muslims and GRT communities.

Comments (15)

  • Linda says:

    We may be getting close to the tipping point where unfounded allegations of antisemitism DO get questioned and those making them face embarrassment and the loss of their professional reputations. Hope so.

  • James Dickins says:

    Nancy Mendoza, the Chief Operating Officer, and Emily Topple, the Chief Editor, of The Canary are both Jewish. I don’t know how John Mann has the gall to engage in rubbish like this – or why Kings College London went along with him.

  • David Hawkins says:

    Those who conflate criticism of Israel with criticism of Jews are playing with fire because it will inevitably lead to anger against Israel being misdirected against Jews. We must fight passionately for a continuing distinction between a Zionist identity and a Jewish identity.
    We have unfortunately to keep repeating the mantra that not all Zionists are Jews and not all Jews are Zionists.

  • Neil G says:

    Tell us some thing we dont already know. The whole process of lies and smears is designed purely to silence dissenters and destroy the left, inside and outside the Labour Party

  • Brian Walford says:

    An important read, but I suspect must of us knew this!

  • John Bowley says:

    Thank goodness for the truth being independently upheld. Much as Linda says, we may be reaching a point where ludicrous accusations of antisemitism done for political cheating or out of personal spite have low credibility.

  • Miriam Yagud says:

    I agree with Linda…and also hope.

  • Yes and who compiled the Kings College Report? Step forward the Zionists tame ‘researcher’ Dr Allington. The same Allington who came up with a definition of ‘antisemitism’ for the Campaign Against Antisemitism that found that antisemitism was more prevalent on the left than the right.

    Those who keep tabs on the CAA site will notice that appended to many articles is this ‘finding’.

    How did Allington succeed when so many b4 him fail? Well he devised 6 new questions that people on the left failed. Questions such as ‘do you feel uncomfortable sitting down with supporters of the Israeli state’. Imagine you were found to be a racist if you’d been unhappy keeping company with supporters of the Apartheid regime in South Africa.

    All of his ‘findings’ assume that Jew=Zionist of course. See my blog

    EXCLUSIVE –Dr Allington of King’s College is a Unique Academic – He Starts Out With the Conclusion and then he finds the ‘Evidence’

    Daniel Allington is the Academic Fraud Behind the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism’s ‘Research’ into Anti-Semitism

  • George Wilmers says:

    Those who seek to build their careers on defamation entrust their power to the baying mob; yet the mob is a fickle patron. John Mann would do well to remember the fate of Senator Joseph McCarthy.

  • Sean O'Donoghue says:

    We should all be complaining to Kings College about the report from one of their academics. No doubt, Mann the Czar knew exactly what he was going to get.

  • James Simpson says:

    I doubt this will make much difference to the pro-Israel Right. The same tactic is used repeatedly: slander someone or an organisation with vivid, lurid imagery of alleged wrongdoing against supposedly vulnerable victims; provide no evidence; then the Left has to respond in a long process, producing the evidence to discredit the original claims. Meanwhile, the public comes to associate the target (e.g. Jeremy Corbyn) with these damaging claims and the eventual apology is largely ignored by the media and public. ““A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” (The socialist Mark Twain, possibly)

  • Joseph Hannigan says:

    Another domino falls…more to come.

  • Doug says:

    Vexatious claims of antisemitism are hate crimes and should be prosecuted
    Skwawkbox The Canary and JVL must go for John Mann and Kings College on the grounds they are a threat to the Jewish Community

  • Jan Brooker says:

    I looked briefly at the conclusions of the Kings College Report. Not academic enquiry, but rubbish work; using the language of the *red tops*, not that of a University.
    THE CANARY. Unfortunately their articles on the IMPRESS report, repeat in places many of the AS smears; as if they were originally true.
    A very poor piece of Journalism.

  • Alfie Benge says:

    The individuals involved with Stop Funding Fake News, launched by Morgan McSweeny, Starmer’s first chief of staff, and fronted by Rachel Riley succeeded in persuading advertisers to withdraw their ads from The Canary, accusing them of publishing antisemitic material, they lost their advertising which nearly put them out of business. The editor has since been subject to continual harrassment and defamation which had a serious effect on her mental health resulting in her leaving the job. The accusations by Mann seem to have been a continuation of the effort to destroy the site for political reasons. If anyone deserved legal help and crowd funding to sue these cynical bastards for defamation it’s The Canary and their brave journalists.

Comments are now closed.