Tag Archives: ruling

Crony contract to Tory friends was ‘unlawful’ – but government is lying about the decision

Backhander: the Tory government is still claiming there was nothing wrong with the Public First contract but the High Court’s ruling is final – it was not legal.

The High Court has ruled that a Tory government decision to award a £560,000 contract to friends of a Tory minister and advisor gave rise to “apparent bias” and was unlawful.

The Tories are already trying to spin this by saying there was no suggestion of “actual” bias, and the contract was not awarded due to personal or professional connections between Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings and their friends in Public First, Rachel Wolf and James Frayne. She co-wrote the Conservatives’ 2019 election manifesto and he worked on the campaign to leave the European Union with Cummings.

I don’t know what the Cabinet Office is trying to achieve by saying that. The judge’s ruling is crystal clear: the government broke the law:

Delivering her ruling, Mrs Justice O’Farrell said: “The claimant is entitled to a declaration that the decision of 5 June 2020 to award the contract to Public First gave rise to apparent bias and was unlawful.”

Nothing else matters. Public First and the Cabinet Office can say what they like but the decision to award the contract to Tory cronies was not permitted within the law and that is the end of the matter.

This Site has been reporting on it since July last year, when the contract first became public knowledge.

I wrote at the time: “It’s jobs for the boys, the Old School Tie, and every other example of favouritism you can imagine in the Tory government during the Covid crisis!

“They’re using emergency regulations, that allow services to be commissioned quickly, to pass huge amounts of money to their friends.

“And apparently there’s a conflict of interest as it seems to involve Eurosceptics working on focus group research related to Brexit – parts of the work contracted involved research on public attitudes to Brexit, which is dodgy in a Eurosceptic firm – although a Cabinet Office spokesman said this was a bookkeeping issue. Do you believe that?

“The Tories are using the Covid-19 crisis to funnel public money away from vital services and into their friends’ bank accounts.”

And I quoted The Guardian‘s report which is interesting in that it states the contract was worth £840,000. It’s curious that these amounts always fall when people are in trouble over them – and always rise when public money is being used to pay.

One piece of information that should have been a dead giveaway was the fact that Public First’s registered office is a residential address – a house – in Long Eaton, Nottinghamshire.

Public First was also behind the disastrous plan to bias (there’s that word again) ‘A’ level results against students who didn’t go to Public Schools like Eton.

The collaboration led to the result we all know:

The algorithm used by Ofqual downgraded 40% of the A-level grades assessed by teachers under the process set after the exams were cancelled, leading to a storm of protest from students, parents, school leaders and teachers, that culminated in a complete government U-turn on Monday and the system being scrapped.

Details of this contract were not made public and Ofqual declined to say how much public money had been spent hiring the firm of Tory cronies. It was only later that the organisation had to admit handing over £49,000 of your money to buy poorer results for your children.

Ofqual’s boss at the time, Sally Collier, later resigned – apparently in shame at having given Public First the contract, and at what that firm did with it.

So now here’s the big question: if the contract to Public First was not legal, shouldn’t that money be paid back?

And if so – by whom?

Say what you like about Public First; the work was carried out. Whether it was carried out to an acceptable standard has not been recorded (and the Ofqual experience casts doubt on that) but somebody did the work that was contracted, and we may expect that it was done in good faith.

So, shouldn’t the government minister(s), who broke the law by awarding the contract wrongly, now pay back into public funds at least the £560,000 quoted in the High Court’s judgement?

Matt Hancock, maybe? Or Boris Johnson?

Source: Government acted unlawfully over firm’s £560,000 Covid contract – BBC News

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Blow for fascist Patel as court rules housing migrants in Napier Barracks ‘unlawful’ and ‘unreasonable’

Priti Patel: of course the decision to put migrants in the “squalid”, “filthy” and overcrowded Napier Barracks was “unreasonable”. Does she look reasonable to you?

The fight against Priti Patel’s fascist policy of forcing migrants to live in concentration camps like Napier Barracks in Kent has taken a major step forward.

The High Court has ruled that a Home Office decision to force migrants to live in the “squalid” and overcrowded former barracks was “unlawful”.

Home Secretary Priti Patel may now have to pay a damages claim against her, and the ruling could lead to further cases from any other men held at the camp who can bring similar evidence to court.

Mr Justice Linden made his judgement after considering evidence including details of a fire that broke out in the camp in January, and an outbreak of Covid-19 earlier this year that infected 200 people.

The judge said the camp’s failings included overcrowding, the use of communal dormitories during a pandemic, lack of ventilation, “filthy” facilities, significant fire risks, run-down buildings, and a “decrepit” isolation block that was not fit for human habitation.

He said: “I do not accept that the accommodation there ensured a standard of living which was adequate for the health of the claimants.

“Insofar as the defendant considered that the accommodation was adequate for their needs, that view was irrational.”

And he criticised the “detention-like” setting for the men.

He said: “They were supposed to live voluntarily pending a determination of their applications for asylum.

“When this is considered, a decision that accommodation in a detention-like setting – a site enclosed by a perimeter fence topped with barbed wire, access to which is through padlocked gates guarded by uniformed security personnel – will be adequate for their needs, begins to look questionable.”

Let’s be honest: these people were imprisoned there, without trial – without even having committed a crime, in accommodation that was unfit for human beings to the extent that hundreds of them contracted a disease that could have been fatal.

This Site has been reporting on the situation at Napier Barracks for a considerable period, and it would be unreasonable for Priti Patel to say she had been unaware of conditions there:

Journalist arrest after Kent refugee camp protest shows how the Tories put down dissent

As the Home Office ships more people into concentration camp, join the fight to close Napier Barracks for good

Responsibility for conditions at Napier lies squarely with the Home Secretary herself, as the Home Office’s advocate said Patel had decided the barracks could be used safely by “introducing safeguards”.

But it is clear that any such safeguards that were introduced were not enough. Is this another example of Tories refusing to fund anything that doesn’t generate a direct profit for themselves or their donors?

The judge declined to rule that the barracks could not be used to house migrants in the future – but he said there must be significant improvements.

From the judgement itself, we may reasonably deduce that these would include changing the sleeping arrangements to end communal dormitories, taking down the barbed-wire perimeter fence, padlocked gates and guards, and giving the entire site a clean.

But this is one example of Tory racism that they won’t be able to whitewash away.

Source: Napier Barracks: Housing migrants at barracks unlawful, court rules – BBC News

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Matt Hancock is gaslighting not only nurses, but ALL of us, over PPE

Smug little liar: when Matt Hancock opens his mouth to make a claim,experience shows it will probably be wrong.

Our nurses are right and Matt Hancock is a liar. He would resign if he had an ounce of integrity but of course he doesn’t, so he won’t.

He has said he would not resign after a High Court judge ruled he was responsible for unlawful delays in revealing how billions of pounds were spent on gowns, masks and other protective equipment at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge: “My officials, with my full support, spent every waking hour buying PPE so that, even though we came close, we never actually ran out of PPE in this country.

“People can make up their own view about whether I should have told my team to stop buying PPE or whether I was right to buy the PPE and get it to the front line.

“And they did that even though the paperwork got delayed by, on average, just over a fortnight.”

Nurses don’t have to make up their own minds. They have the facts. They have experienced the deaths of their colleagues, who were exposed to Covid-19 needlessly because Hancock did not supply them with PPE.

In fact, as I stated earlier, not only did the Johnson government give away the PPE it had, it later wasted millions – if not billions – giving contracts to useless Tory cronies who either couldn’t supply the goods or provided equipment that could not be used.

That will be the buying that Hancock mentioned to Ms Ridge, then?

I also mentioned the fact that nurses caught the virus because they didn’t have proper PPE:

“According to Metro,

Three nurses who wore bin bags on their shifts due to a shortage in personal protective equipment (PPE) have reportedly tested positive for coronavirus.

Just weeks ago, the nurses had shared a photo of themselves with clinical waste bags on their heads and feet as they issued a plea for proper masks, gowns and gloves at Northwick Park Hospital, in Harrow.

“I wrote: ‘One of them had said they were all “terrified” that this might happen, knowing that colleagues had caught the disease from patients, and having treated those colleagues. They had seen what the illness does… We know what the government that failed them is going to give them: Platitudes.’

“How right I was.”

Now, responding to Hancock’s comments, community nurse Angela Roberts recalled the incident when she asked:

Why were nurses forced to use bloody bin bags? Out-of-date masks?

She continued:

Why was PPE downgraded for NHS staff?

‘Why was there no PPE for care homes and community nurses except for plastic pinnies?

And Anthony Johnson, lead organiser for Nurses United, said:

He thinks that he can try to gaslight millions of health and social care workers who had to re-use PPE.

If so, he thinks wrong.

But what difference will it make if there are no consequences for his actions?

Source: Hancock is gaslighting us over PPE, say nurses | Metro

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Why did ‘celebrity’ Twitter users force suspension of ordinary woman? Because they could

Some of you have been kind enough to notice that This Writer’s @MidWalesMike account has been in the Twitter sin bin since the beginning of the month because somebody didn’t like one of my articles about the court case against Rachel Riley.

That is dangerous enough – it’s clearly an attempt to create a “chilling” effect on my crowdfunding (that, fortunately, has failed – the fund has nearly raised £125,000 since it started nearly two years ago).

But now I read that another Twitter user, who apparently has no public profile at all (she’s not a celebrity or a journalist/blogger or a member of the commentatorati), has found her account suspended, simply for expressing her dislike of an actress.

The actress in question was Tracy-Ann Oberman, who apparently searches the social media platform for any adverse comment about her. Spotting this one, it seems she claimed that the lady in question had to be an anti-Semite, even though no part of the view she expressed in her tweet conveyed any such sentiment. See for yourself:

“It’s a sin was doing so well then I saw Tracy Ann Oberman left a bad taste in my mouth … trying to quickly forget I’ve seen her.”

“Caroline do you think that YOU may be one of those intolerant bigots that Russell is talking about in #itsasin

“Seems you’ve missed the entire point of the series. You and the rest of this thread. Oh dear. @cst @UKLabour @LabourAgainstAS”

The @ tags at the end of Oberman’s tweet are significant. She was tagging in the Community Security Trust and Labour Against Anti-Semitism – both highly vocal self-proclaimed crusaders against anti-Semitism (although both could equally well be described as witch-hunters against people targeted with false claims) along with the Labour Party, because ‘Caroline’ could be seen holding a Labour membership card in her profile picture.

The implication is clear: Oberman wanted to brand ‘Caroline’ an anti-Semite and she wanted to bring Labour’s attention to it. In order to provoke disciplinary action, perhaps? Because this person had expressed an opinion about her appearance in a TV show. Overkill?

No. Overkill is what followed. Oberman’s tweet led to a dogpile so vile that even some of its participants later withdrew their comments and apologised.

I won’t go into the details but you can read about it on Zelo Street if you like.

Then – apparently after pressure from the usual cohort of “blue tick” celebrities – ‘Caroline’ had her Twitter account suspended.

I repeat that she had not expressed a single opinion that was not well within her right. If she doesn’t like Tracy-Ann Oberman, it is not for Tracy-Ann Oberman to take offence and have her hounded off of Twitter. For all Tracy-Ann Oberman knew, ‘Caroline’ had perfectly good reasons for disliking her.

Those reasons don’t have to be restricted to her acting, either. I refer to her “clitoris” comment in response to David Quantick, and her (clearly racist, in my opinion) “Is Ping Pong the Thai help?” query in response to a tweet from Liz Hurley that her parrot had spoken in human language for the first time.

Nevertheless, Tracy-Ann Oberman reacted the way she did, and now an innocent member of the public has been hounded off of Twitter.

You may be wondering why Tracy-Ann Oberman feels justified in having acted as she did. I’ll tell you the answer:

Because there is a court ruling that says she cannot be held to account for it.

It’s the ruling of Mrs Justice Collins Rice in the case brought by Oberman’s friend Rachel Riley against This Writer.

Riley’s legal team had put forward an argument that she could not possibly be held responsible for the behaviour of her followers, who abused and harassed a teenage girl with mental health problems who had had the temerity to criticise her for accusing Owen Jones (and Jeremy Corbyn) of anti-Semitism.

Riley had tagged celebrities, politicians and so-called activists against anti-Semitism into her tweets responding to the girl, who had received many hundreds of responses critical of her as a result – forcing her to quit Twitter several times for the sake of her mental health.

But the judge agreed that Riley was not responsible. Her ruling means nobody else can be, either.

And this is the result.

It is hugely damaging – not only for the safety of people like ‘Caroline’, but for everybody’s Article 10 right to Freedom of Expression according to the Human Rights Act (she was hounded off the platform for expressing an opinion about an actress, remember).

It also contradicts the intentions of Online Harms legislation that is due to pass through Parliament soon. Part of the proposed law would make participation in online dogpiles a criminal offence with serious penalties attached.

As everybody should be aware by now, I have appealed against Mrs Justice Collins Rice’s ruling.

I hope that judges at the Court of Appeal agree that it has created the opportunity for significant harm – and has already caused such harm in the case of ‘Caroline’.

If so, then we may also hope that the ruling is rescinded and the Obermans of this world lose their legal protection.

My case is still going on, I am still crowdfunding to pay its costs, and you are invited to contribute in the time-honoured ways:

Consider making a donation yourself, if you can afford it, via the CrowdJustice page.

Email your friends, asking them to pledge to the CrowdJustice site.

Post a link to Facebook, asking readers to pledge.

On Twitter, tweet in support, quoting the address of the appeal.

If you haven’t donated before, perhaps this story will encourage you.

After all, they might come for you next.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Tory government breaks ruling ordering it to publish report on UK fracking

The obvious question – asked by Labour’s Jon Trickett in the quoted extract below – is clear:

If the Tories will break a legally-binding regulator’s ruling to hide the facts about fracking from the public, what other rules are they willing to break?

My guess is: all of them.

And if they’re hiding information from you, it’s because they are putting their own interests before those of the nation.

That’s no way for a government to behave.

The government has refused to abide by a ruling to publish parts of a report on the state of the UK’s fracking industry, Labour has pointed out.

The government was instructed by the information commissioners office (ICO) to release the document by 5pm on November 25th. This followed the failure of the cabinet office to respond to a freedom of information request submitted by Greenpeace in 2018.

The cabinet office had refused on the grounds the information “could call into question the industry’s viability” and was an internal government document exempt from the environmental information regulations.

Labour’s shadow minister for the cabinet office, Jon Trickett, said: “The Tories’ failure to publish this crucial report on fracking shows contempt for democracy and serves as a stark warning for what lies ahead if Boris Johnson is re-elected.

Labour has explicitly committed to a ban on fracking. The government halted fracking earlier this month but campaign groups are concerned that this is a temporary pause.

Source: Government refuses to publish report on fracking – LabourList

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Demand for Johnson to resign after Supreme Court’s prorogation ruling. But will he?

Boris Johnson: One may imagine that his face had a similar expression after he was woken up to be told the Supreme Court’s decision.

This morning, Boris Johnson was being urged to resign for giving public money and a place on trade junkets to a personal friend. Now he’s facing a much more serious charge.

Here’s Jeremy Corbyn:

It’s not an idle demand.

Boris Johnson has tried to overrule Parliamentary democracy, and he has manipulated the Queen in order to do so.

The only proper course of action for him now is to come back from the UN with his tail between his legs and offer the Queen his resignation.

But you can bet he won’t do that willingly.

In less than two months, he has made himself the worst prime minister the UK has ever had. The government falls further into disgrace with every day he remains in position.

But it is what he has always wanted so, like a spoiled child, he’ll stay right where he is until someone forces him out.

Let us hope that happens sooner, rather than later.

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Northern Irish judges rule Boris Johnson prorogation won’t harm the peace process

Was anybody expecting an earth-shattering turnabout as a result of this ruling?

I wasn’t. Here’s what we know at the time of writing:

Judges in Belfast have ruled that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament for five weeks was lawful and would not damage the Northern Ireland peace process.

Lawyers for the applicants in Belfast argued that a no-deal Brexit on 31 October would undermine agreements involving the UK and Irish governments that were struck during the peace process and which underpin cross-border co-operation between the two nations.

Source: Northern Irish judges rule Boris Johnson prorogation is lawful | Politics | The Guardian

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Scottish Judge rejects parliament shutdown legal challenge

This is self-explanatory and nothing more than what was to be expected.

In any case, events have moved on and the prorogation now appears to be just another mistake by an inept, failed prime minister.

A Scottish judge has rejected a bid to have Boris Johnson’s plan to shut down parliament ahead of Brexit declared illegal.

The case was brought to the Court of Session in Edinburgh by a cross-party group of 75 parliamentarians, who argued the PM had exceeded his powers.

But Lord Doherty ruled on Wednesday that the issue was for politicians and voters to judge, and not the courts.

He said there had been no contravention of the law by the government.

Source: Brexit: Judge rejects parliament shutdown legal challenge – BBC News

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Press regulator rules Jewish Chronicle WRONG to have called Vox Political writer ‘Holocaust denier’

What was it the Jewish Chronicle was saying about the Labour Party being an “existential threat” to Jewish people?

From a purely objective viewpoint (of course), it seems clear that the main threat to Jewish people is coming from rags like the Chronicle, making false claims about perfectly decent people like me.

It stirs up distrust in the community, you see.

And people like Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard should not be allowed to get away with it. This is why I am raising funds to take those who have libelled me to court, so a financial penalty can be imposed on them that is of equal weight to the damage they have caused. Regular readers of This Site will be aware of the existence of my JustGiving page, and I apologise for having to keep mentioning it, but if you have contributed already, please consider making a further donation, or ask a friend to do so.

The Jewish Chronicle had accused me of Holocaust denial, following up on an article in another newspaper (on which judgement is pending). I took the matter to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, which announced a ruling. This happened two weeks ago, but I had to wait for the all-clear to mention the fact. Here it is:

The complainant said that it was inaccurate for the article to say that he had said he “could not
comment” on whether thousands or millions of Jews died in the Holocaust because he ‘didn’t
know’. A commenter on the website had been listing incidents of anti-Semitism on the Left, and
had referred to a leaflet which he said omitted Jews from a list of Holocaust survivors, and put
the number of deaths from the Holocaust at thousands, rather than millions. In response to a
comment about the leaflet, the complainant had said “I’m not going to comment on ‘thousands’
instead of ‘millions’ because I don’t know, but the Nazi holocaust involved many other groups
as well as Jews, and it seems likely that the SWP was simply being ‘politically correct’”. He said
he was referring to not knowing why the leaflet made this claim, rather than to not knowing the
number of Jews who died.

The publication denied that the article was inaccurate. In respect of the ‘thousands or millions’
claim, its interpretation of the comments thread was plausible, and there was no significantly
inaccuracy.

The complainant had not expressly said that he “could not comment on whether thousands or
millions of Jews died in the Holocaust”. There was no reference in the discussion surrounding the
leaflet to “whether thousands or millions of Jews died in the Holocaust”, because the leaflet had
explicitly not referred to Jews among the victims of the Holocaust. The publication was entitled to
give its own interpretation of what the complainant had meant by his comments. However, the
article did not make clear that it was reporting the publication’s interpretation of the
complainant’s comments. This represented a failure to take care, in breach of Clause 1(i). The
article gave the impression that the complainant had said something which he had not, on a
subject liable to cause widespread offence.

As with MailOnline previously, IPSO has let me down as far as punishment is concerned.

The Jewish Chronicle gets off with a light slap on the wrist: “Having upheld the complaint… the Committee considered what remedial action should be required. The publication had offered a clarification which set out the complainant’s position in relation to the number of Jewish victims of the Holocaust, and on the meaning of his comments. This clarification made the complainant’s position clear, and addressed the article’s misleading presentation of his comments. This was sufficient to meet the terms… and should now be published.”

A full clarification, admitting that the paper had misled readers and apologising to me, would have been more appropriate.

And there are other outstanding matters that will now require a court ruling – which is why I am appealing for funds.

But for now, the score stands thus: Vox Political – TWO        Libellous newspapers – NIL.

Please be sure to share this information far and wide.

Visit our JustGiving page to help Vox Political’s Mike Sivier fight anti-Semitism libels in court


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One down: Press regulator rules against MailOnline in Vox Political ‘anti-Semitism’ case

This is a welcome victory.

But in the words of somebody much nastier than me: It is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it may well be the end of the beginning.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation has upheld my complaint against MailOnline, that it misrepresented me in an article accusing me of Holocaust denial and other examples of anti-Semitism.

It is the first adjudication among five complaints against news organisations that made similar allegations against me on or around February 4. You’ll see the issues when you read the full adjudication below. IPSO was supposed to publish it on the organisation’s website last Thursday but, for some unaccountable reason, this has not happened. As I have assurances that it is not being challenged, I’m going ahead and publishing it here.

The ruling regarding the alleged statement about a “cabal of Jewish advisors” to Tony Blair is wrong; I did not suggest that anyone could be justified in suggesting that Mr Blair was influenced in such a way – I stated that anyone hearing such a claim could be justified in being concerned about it, at least until they were presented with the evidence on the matter. There is, therefore, a world of difference between what MailOnline – and now IPSO – attributed to me and the fact of the matter, and claims that the publication’s interpretation of my words is reasonable are false. I will have to pursue this in the courts.

The punishment is completely inappropriate. Ordering MailOnline to do something it had already offered to do – and which I had rejected because it was not enough – is frankly pathetic. MailOnline has been found to have been inaccurate in its reporting of me and should be forced to admit that it was wrong and apologise.

IPSO’s view is that “the Committee decided that the footnote clarification was sufficient on this occasion… [and] there is no requirement for MailOnline to publish the decision; it will be published on our website. Again, were the Committee to have considered that the breach of the Code was such that [publication of] an adjudication was required, the publication would have been required to publish this in a position determined by the Committee.” Weak.

The ruling in my favour over the false claim of Holocaust denial is very interesting, as the original allegation came from a leaked Labour Party report on me. Labour has raised several charges of anti-Semitism against me – among which, Holocaust denial is notable for its absence. But the Information Commissioner’s Office has ordered the party to provide me with all the information it holds about me, after it was found to have broken the law by failing to honour a Subject Access Request I sent out in February – so I will see the information that led to the news outlet’s claim (or I will know that Labour has not sent all the information required of it).

That will have a huge bearing on the outcome of Labour’s investigation. As the party has been caught lying about me, this casts a shadow over all its other claims.

But the main benefit to come from this will arise when I launch my court cases against the organisations that have lied about me but are not subject to IPSO regulation. Having a ruling in my favour here will weigh heavily against my opponents in that arena.

But I need the funds to be able to do that, which is why I have a JustGiving page dedicated to that purpose.

If you want to help put an end to frivolous, lying accusations of anti-Semitism, please visit the page at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/mike-sivier and donate some cash. I’m hoping to raise £25,000 and have a long way to go.

Here’s the IPSO adjudication:

Decision of the Complaints Committee – 02821-18 Sivier v MailOnline
Summary of Complaint
1. Mike Sivier complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that MailOnline breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Journalist accused of anti-Semitism and ex Militant member among the far-left activists who have been let back into Labour after Corbynistas tightened their grip on the party”, published on 4 February 2018.
2. The article reported on “secret documents” seen by a different publication, which showed that the Labour Party had allowed “far left activists” back into the party. It said that the complainant was being given back his membership after being “expelled…over claims he had posted anti-Semitic abuse online”. The article said that the complainant “reportedly said it ‘may be entirely justified’ to say Tony Blair had been ‘unduly influenced by a cabal of Jewish advisers’”, and that he also “said he was ‘not pretending it was a big problem’ if Jews were omitted from a list of Holocaust survivors”. It went on to say that, according to the other publication, the complainant “claimed ‘I’m not going to comment’ on whether thousands or millions of Jews died in the Holocaust as ‘I don’t know’”.
3. The complainant said that he had not been “expelled” from the Labour Party: he had been suspended while an investigation was carried out into allegations that he had posted material which might be interpreted as anti-Semitic – not for posting “abuse”. He said that another commenter on his website had stated that a Labour politician had said that Tony Blair was “unduly influenced by a cabal of Jewish advisers”. He said that, without further context, it was impossible to analyse this claim; he had replied saying “I would point out that (without further information) concerns that Tony Blair was being ‘unduly influenced’ by a ‘cabal of Jewish advisers’ may have been entirely justified”.
4. The complainant said that the other comments reported had been distorted by being removed from their context, and denied that they were anti-Semitic. A commenter on the website had been listing incidents of anti-Semitism on the Left, and had referred to a leaflet which he said omitted Jews from a list of Holocaust survivors, and put the number of deaths from the Holocaust at thousands, rather than millions. The complainant denied having said that he didn’t know whether thousands or millions of Jews died in the Holocaust. Rather, in response to a comment about the leaflet, he had said “I’m not going to comment on ‘thousands’ instead of ‘millions’ because I don’t know,
but the Nazi holocaust involved many other groups as well as Jews, and it seems likely that the SWP was simply being ‘politically correct’”. He said he was referring to not knowing whether the leaflet made this claim, rather than to not knowing the number of Jews who died. He had gone on to say “Nobody has said anti-Semitism on the left doesn’t exist…But it isn’t organised and is mostly the work of aberrant individuals”. The commenter had then accused the complainant of “pretending that there isn’t a problem”. The complainant had replied “I’m not pretending there isn’t a problem, I’m just not pretending it’s a big problem”. His comment that he was “not pretending it was a big problem” had been referring to the problem of anti-Semitism on the Left in general, and not to the omission of Jews from the list.
5. The publication denied that the use of the word “expelled” was significantly misleading; the article did not suggest that the complainant had been permanently removed from the party, as its entire premise was that he and others had been readmitted. It nevertheless removed this word from the article and substituted the word “suspended” in its place. It also denied that the term “abuse” was misleading since the allegations related to the posting of content which might be interpreted as anti-Semitic. In addition, the publication said that it had accurately reported the complainant’s comments in relation to the “cabal of Jewish advisers”.
6. The publication said that the article was entirely accurate in reporting the complainant’s other comments; the interpretation that had been made of the comments was reasonable. It acknowledged that the complainant may have a different interpretation of the comments, and offered to publish a footnote clarification as follows:
Since first publication Mr Sivier has contacted us and asked us to point out that his refusal to comment on the issue of why the SWP flyer referred to “thousands” rather than “millions” was a reference to the choice of wording by the SWP on their flyer and not a reference to the number of victims of the Holocaust. He also says that the reference to there not being a “big problem” was directed to the general issue of anti-Semitism on the left and not the specific issue of omitting Jews from the list of Holocaust survivors. Mr Sivier denies making any comments that could be interpreted as anti-Semitic and we are happy to make his position clear.
It also offered to publish a standalone clarification on its website as follows:
An article on 4 February entitled “Journalist accused of anti-Semitism and an ex Militant member among the far-left activists who have been let back into
Labour after Corbynistas tightened their grip on the party” reported on allegedly anti-Semitic comments made by mike Sivier. We now understand that Mr Sivier denies that these comments could be interpreted as anti-Semitic and we are happy make his position clear.
7. The complainant denied that the article contained a reasonable interpretation of his comments. In reference to the claim regarding the number of Holocaust victims, his original comment had made clear, through the use of quotation marks, that he was referring to the use of the words in the leaflet, rather than to his own beliefs. The commenter had said that the complainant was “defending the indefensible, and pretending that there isn’t a problem” with anti-Semitism on the Left, and it was in response to this that he had said “I’m not pretending there isn’t a problem, though. I’m simply not pretending it’s a big problem”.
Relevant Code Provisions
Clause 1 (Accuracy) i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text. 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. iii) A fair opportunity to reply to significant inaccuracies should be given, when reasonably called for. iv) The Press, while free to editorialise and campaign, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.
Findings of the Committee
8. The Committee noted that the article had reported claims about the complainant which had previously been published elsewhere, and had presented them in this light. However, the comments which the article reported on were publicly available, and the publication was responsible for reporting them accurately.
9. The article had originally stated that the complainant had been “expelled” by the party. The Committee acknowledged that, read alone, this might suggest that he had been permanently barred. However, the sub-headline indicated that he had been ‘suspended’, and the article made clear that he was eligible to be readmitted; indeed, this was the premise of the article. In these
circumstances, stating that he had been “expelled” was not significantly misleading, and there was no failure to take care over this claim. Similarly, it was not misleading for the article to say that the complainant had been expelled “over claims” of “abuse”: the suspension had related to allegations of anti-Semitic comments made online, which the publication was entitled to characterise as “abuse” when the basis for this was made clear. In addition, the newspaper had not stated as fact that he had in fact engaged in “abuse”, but had stated that he was suspended “over claims” of such behaviour. There was no breach of Clause 1 on these points.
10. In response to a commenter referring to comments by a Labour politician stating that Tony Blair was “unduly influenced by a cabal of Jewish advisers”, the complainant had written “(without further information) concerns that Tony Blair was being ‘unduly influenced’ by ‘a cabal of Jewish advisors’ may have been entirely justified.” This comment was accurately reported by the publication, and it was entitled to rely on the words the complainant had used. There was no breach of Clause 1 on this point.
11. The complainant had not directly said that he was “’not going to comment’ on whether thousands or millions of Jews died in the Holocaust as ‘I don’t know’”. There was no reference in the discussion surrounding the leaflet to “whether thousands or millions of Jews died in the Holocaust”, because the leaflet had explicitly not referred to Jews among the victims of the Holocaust. The publication may have inferred this meaning from the complainant’s comments, but it reported this as something he had said. The article did not make clear that it was reporting the publication’s interpretation of the complainant’s comments; they were presented as direct quotations. Because the comment thread was publicly available, this represented a failure to take care, in breach of Clause 1(i). The article gave the impression that the complainant had said something which he had not, on a subject liable to cause widespread offence, a clarification was required to avoid a breach of Clause 1(ii).
12. As set out above, the complainant had suggested that omitting Jews from a list of Holocaust survivors in a leaflet may have been for “’politically correct’” reasons. However, he had not explicitly stated that omitting Jews from the list was “not a big problem”, as the article said Claiming that the complainant had said this, when his comments were publicly available, his represented a failure to take care over the accuracy of the article, in breach of Clause 1(i). Because the article gave the misleading impression that the complainant had made a claim that he had not made, it required clarification to avoid a breach of Clause 1(ii).
13. The footnote clarification addressed the two inaccuracies identified in the article, and made clear the complainant’s position with respect to these two points. It was therefore sufficient to address the inaccuracy and avoid a breach of Clause 1(ii). The Committee welcomed the offer of a standalone clarification; however, the footnote correction was sufficient to address the inaccuracies in the article, and the Committee did not require a standalone correction in this instance.
Conclusions
14. The complaint was upheld under Clause 1(i).
Remedial action required
15. The publication had offered a footnote clarification which set out the complainant’s position in relation to his comments. This clarification addressed the inaccuracies within the article, and was sufficient to meet the terms of Clause 1(ii). It should now be published.

Visit our JustGiving page to help Vox Political’s Mike Sivier fight anti-Semitism libels in court


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