Tag Archives: standards

Is IPSO incapable of investigating standards at the Jewish Chronicle? Or UNWILLING?

Jo Bird: her complaint against the Jewish Chronicle over inaccuracies in its report about her was upheld; now she, I, and seven other victims of its falsehoods are demanding an investigation into whether the paper’s editorial standards have fallen to an unacceptable level. And guess what? We’re not the only ones.

Remember the letter to newspaper regulator IPSO that This Writer co-signed, requesting a Standards Investigation into the Jewish Chronicle after it notched up 28 recorded breaches of the Editors’ Code and four libel defeats in just three years?

It seems IPSO would rather forget about it.

Tasked with providing a respond by August 12, the organisation’s first reaction was to send a ‘holding’ letter, to which one of my co-signatories, Jo Bird, replied with a list of seven questions.

She then received another holding letter from IPSO’s head of standards, saying she was going on holiday but would get on the case when she got back, and that Lord Faulks, the IPSO chair, would respond on his own account ‘in due course’.

Ms Bird chased this – only to receive yet another ‘holding’ letter saying the head of standards was now sick, and she has written again to say that the questions she asked (When will Faulks write? How many JC breaches has IPSO counted? And others) don’t need the head of standards to answer them.

We expect to receive another ‘holding’ letter.

Meanwhile, there has been another ruling against the JC, involving two code breaches: https://www.ipso.co.uk/rulings-and-resolution-statements/ruling/?id=29092-20 – that makes 37 breaches of the law or the code in 37 months, including seven code breaches and one libel settlement in 2021 alone.

Some of us want to know what’s going on at the so-called press regulator. It should not take more than a month to work out whether there are grounds to investigate the standard of reporting at a newspaper that, over the last three years, has broken the rules – and the law – an average of once a month.

IPSO is itself owned and run by newspaper bosses and owners. Are they concerned that an investigation may create a precedent, setting a bar for investigations that their own newspapers could pass? Are they opposed to an investigation because they like what the JC has been doing? And are they embarrassed by the fact that the JC has put them in an impossible predicament?

Well, their problem is about to get worse.

Hacked Off – the campaign for a national press that is accountable and free of political and commercial influence – is launching a campaign demanding an IPSO standards investigation into the JC, and pointing out at the same time that there are very strong grounds for IPSO to investigate The Times over Islamophobia, The Telegraph on bad science and The Mail on a whole range of subjects – today, September 20, 2021.

Suppose IPSO has been gearing itself up to reject an investigation – or to run a token inquiry and whitewash the JC.

It seems to This Writer that such a course of action is about to become much, much more difficult to justify.

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Jo Bird, the proposed standards review of the Jewish Chronicle… and me

Jo Bird: her complaint against the Jewish Chronicle over inaccuracies in its report about her was upheld; now she, I, and seven other victims of its falsehoods are demanding an investigation into whether the paper’s editorial standards have fallen to an unacceptable level.

In case you’ve been living under a rock since the weekend, the newspaper regulator IPSO has made yet another ruling against the Jewish Chronicle for failures in its journalism.

The right-wing rag was found to have wrongly reported that Ms Bird, a Labour councillor in the Wirral, had been suspended for a third time in late 2020.

Details are below, including her own statement on the ruling which points out that the JC crucially failed to mention the fact that she is Jewish in its account of alleged anti-Semitism by her – thereby omitting crucial context.

As you can see from the last paragraph of her statement, Ms Bird demanded a formal Standards Investigation by IPSO into the JC.

This means that IPSO would consider whether the number and regularity of Editor’s Code breaches means that the JC‘s editorial standards have fallen to an unacceptable level. If it were to find against the newspaper, then penalties – and measures to improve it – may be demanded.

Where do I fit in to this?

I’m glad you asked.

Back in 2018, the JC was one of a handful of newspapers that re-published a false claim from The Sunday Times that I was a Holocaust denier. There was no truth in the allegation, which was derived from documents leaked by the Labour Party, which was investigating me at the time; investigators had ignored their own regulations on fairness in order to fabricate the claims.

The JC had not attempted to verify any of the claims against me before it published them. I complained to IPSO and my complaint was upheld (although you wouldn’t know it from the surly line of clarification that was added to the story, to the effect that I had said the claim was false. The Sunday Times was subsequently forced to publish a lengthy clarification in which it admitted that there was no truth at all to its claim about me).

After Ms Bird’s victory was announced, I was contacted by friends acting on her behalf, to ask if I would be willing to sign a letter calling on IPSO to conduct the Standards Investigation that she had already demanded, in my capacity as another victim of false reporting.

I was happy to do so.

And that is the reason my name is attached to the following letter:

Dear Lord Faulks,

We welcome IPSO’s agreement to consider Jo Bird’s proposal for a Standards Investigation into the Jewish Chronicle and we urge you to launch such an investigation without delay. With 28 recorded breaches of the Editors’ Code and four libel defeats in just three years, it is clear that the paper’s editorial standards are shockingly low and IPSO’s actions to date have made no difference.

We have all either seen our complaints to IPSO about the Jewish Chronicle’s bad journalism upheld or secured admissions of libel from the paper. Unless standards there improve there will be more victims, while readers will continue to be misled.

IPSO’s regulations say a Standards Investigation can take place where there is evidence of ‘serious and systemic breaches of the code’. The seriousness of the breaches by the Jewish Chronicle is attested to in IPSO’s own rulings while the sheer number of breaches and libel defeats – taking place at a small publication that appears only weekly – proves the problem is systemic.

We would be grateful if you would circulate this letter to all IPSO board members and to senior management.

Yours,

Jo Bird

John Davies

Ibrahim Hewitt, Interpal

Jenny Lennox

Kal Ross

Mike Sivier

Thomas Suárez

Marc Wadsworth

Audrey White

Now we must wait for a response from IPSO, due by August 12, and then for its findings – if an investigation is launched.

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Johnson’s crony Con club: his government ignored 171 other candidates to employ his chum

Laughing at us: Boris Johnson appointed his former Bullingdon Club colleague to Parliament’s sleaze watchdog, over 171 other applicants. It seems clear he did it to ensure that he would never be found guilty of the many corruption accusations made against him.

We all screamed “foul” when it was revealed that Boris Johnson’s government had appointed his Bullingdon Club chum Ewen Fergusson to Parliament’s sleaze watchdog.

Was he put in the Committee on Standards in Public Life to rubber-stamp Johnson’s offences as being within reasonable standards of behaviour, we asked (or at least, This Writer did).

Now we have more evidence, and it suggests that he was.

Why else would Johnson’s government have appointed his friend over 171 other applicants who were not directly and personally linked to him – in the face of objections that the connection should disqualify Fergusson altogether?

As The Independent puts it,

The longtime friend of the prime minister was appointed to scrutinise him.

By the way: final say on who got the job went to Boris Johnson. He chose his friend for the position.

If you wanted an honest verdict on your own actions, would you appoint a personal friend to provide it? I wouldn’t. My friends would tell me if they thought I was going wrong, but they’d never voluntarily say so to strangers.

And this was pointed out by the Labour Party (even though it shouldn’t have to be):

Labour said friends of the prime minister should be disqualified from the role on the Committee on Standards In Public Life, given the nature of its job scrutinising members of the government, including Mr Johnson.

“Being Boris Johnson’s chum from the Bullingdon Club does not qualify you to sit on the watchdog that is supposed to crack down on sleaze and cronyism in our politics. In fact, it should disqualify you,” deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner told The Independent.

“This appointment is an utter joke, and out of 173 applicants of course the Bullingdon Boy fits the job description of marking the prime minister’s homework.

It is a joke. And next time Johnson gets accused of corruption, and his Bullingdon chum green-lights it, he’ll be the one laughing at all of us.

Source: Government passed over 171 candidates to pick Bullingdon Club ‘chum’ of Boris Johnson for sleaze watchdog role | The Independent

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Tory cronyism: Johnson appoints Bullingdon chum to ethics committee. Contradiction?

Two-fingered salute:: Boris Johnson’s answer to those of us who accuse him of cronyism.

We point out their corruption by taking them to court for giving cash to their cronies, and the Tories simply shrug and do it again.

Boris Johnson has appointed a former Bullingdon Club colleague, Ewen Fergusson, to sit on Whitehall’s “sleaze” watchdog – the Committee on Standards in Public Life.

Is this so his friend can rubber-stamp all Johnson’s own offences as being well within reasonable standards of behaviour?

Questions have already been raised about the appointment, which was approved by Johnson, as you can read in this Guardian article.

And the reaction outside the Tory bubble has been… as one might expect:

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After Lord Geidt’s whitewash, Labour wants INDEPENDENT probe on Downing Street flat redecoration

Good advice: Boris Johnson can say what he likes about his alleged breaches of the ministerial code, but nobody in their right mind would take only his word for it.

Labour will be like a dog with a bone over Tory corruption.

You know why?

The party can’t attack the Tory government over its incompetent hnadling of Covid-19 because Keir Starmer supported every duff decision Boris Johnson made (until the evidence revealed those choices to have been homicidal).

And Starmer can’t criticise the Tories over Brexit because his choice of policy contributed to Labour’s spectacular loss of the 2019 general election. He would just be inviting ridicule.

But Tory corruption is a different matter.

And the controversy over the redecoration of the Downing Street Flat occupied by Boris (and Mrs) Johnson, dubbed “Wallpapergate” due to the enormous cost of the wallpaper they chose – more than £800 per roll – was only ever likely to get worse after the prime minister was cleared of wrongdoing by a man who is his employee.

And Labour has found a way to make this an actual Double Whammy.

Not only has Labour reported Johnson to the independent Parliamentary standards commissioner, but it has pointed out that he was warned to face stronger sanctions after a previous transgression.

He had failed to declare shares in a property by the deadline required for it to appear in the relevant register of MPs’ interests.

At the time, standards commissioner Kathryn Stone had reprimanded Johnson. She also warned that any further breaches may warrant “more serious sanction”.

Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, reminded Ms Stone of this in her letter requesting an independent investigation into Johnson’s failure to register a donation by Tory donor Lord Brownlow to pay for the flat redecoration.

She wrote: “Far from learning the lessons of his previous transgressions, the prime minister has continued with his attitude of treating basic standards of integrity, openness and transparency with contempt, and behaving as though there is one rule for him and another for everyone else.”

And she said the fact that Mr Johnson told Lord Geidt he became aware of the donations for the works on the flat in February this year but did not settle the invoices personally until March 8 suggests he is in breach of parliamentary rules on declaring donations that all MPs must follow.

Ms Stone is already investigating whether Mr Johnson properly declared a £15,000 holiday on the Caribbean island of Mustique with his now-wife Carrie.

Johnson is also facing two other inquiries into the flat refurbishment.

The Electoral Commission is investigating whether the Conservative Party broke the rules on declaring donations over the Downing Street flat and has the power to issue a fine of up to £20,000.

And Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, the UK’s top civil servant, is also examining whether donations were properly declared.

And it will only get worse for Johnson because he won’t stop breaking the rules. It seems he genuinely thinks he’s above the law.

Still, it’s great for political commentators like This Writer. It guarantees me stories for years to come.

As for you… if you like that sort of thing, I recommend you buy popcorn – in a regular supply.

Source: Labour demands further probe into Boris Johnson’s flat revamp – BBC News

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Johnson under investigation AGAIN – this time over funding for his Caribbean holiday in 2019

Boris Johnson: he spends lots of money, but he doesn’t seem to spend any of his own.

Has Boris Johnson paid for anything himself since he became prime minister?

How many more investigations into alleged financial improprieties by him are we going to see?

And how much public money are they going to cost?

This is ridiculous.

As UK citizens, we expect our representatives to behave with exemplary dignity, propriety and honesty – at all times.

If Johnson is found wanting, in any of the investigations currently racking themselves up around him, then we must demand his resignation – or removal – in disgrace.

And let’s not have the usual Tory whitewash because we will know if it’s a stitch-up.

We’re all watching very carefully now.

Boris Johnson is being investigated by the MPs’ standards watchdog over the funding of a Caribbean holiday [on Mustique, an island playground for the incredibly rich] in 2019.

Commons standards commissioner Kathryn Stone has confirmed she is looking into whether the prime minister correctly declared how the trip was paid for.

Mr Johnson has previously declared he received accommodation worth £15,000, covered by Carphone Warehouse co-founder David Ross.

Source: Boris Johnson facing probe over funding of 2019 holiday – BBC News

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‘Richie’: Sunak’s referral to ethics watchdog over wife’s vast wealth won’t address the real problem

The paper trail: financial holdings of Rishi Sunak, his wife Akshata Murty and her family are explained in this image, originally published by The Guardian.

How can a man as insanely rich as Rishi Sunak is – through the wealth of his wife and her family – honestly have any understanding of the struggles normal people are suffering as a result of his many decisions to cut their income?

He can’t.

That is the concern that we face after the revelation that the Tory Chancellor did not declare wealth larger than that of the Queen in the register of ministerial interests.

It won’t be addressed by Lord Evans, chair of the committee on standards in public life, because there is no rule requiring him to.

So the referral to the ethics watchdog by Labour’s Tonia Antoniazzi and James Murray may be seen as a pointless waste of time.

Here are the facts, neatly summed up in a couple of tweets:

More information is in the Guardian stories here and here.

According to the second of those stories, the Labour MPs’ referral to the ethics watchdog arises because they are concerned that Sunak’s wife’s holdings may create a potential conflict between his public and private interests.

But the Treasury has already said that Sunak “followed the ministerial code to the letter” in his declarations.

It seems he met the government’s then head of propriety and ethics, Helen MacNamara, to decide what needed to be declared before he joined the Treasury.

However: as This Writer learned only last week, a person can comply with the letter of the law and still be doing something wrong.

It doesn’t surprise me that Labour MPs are trying to tease out the nature of any wrong-doing by Sunak, because it was Labour that mistreated me.

Despite adhering to the letter of its rules on investigating anti-Semitism allegations against me, Labour ignored the requirements of its actual procedures in order to falsify a case against me, and manufactured an incorrect verdict. I had to go to court to have the facts revealed.

Will anything come of an investigation into Sunak? Doubtful. There’s no law against being ignorant of the way the other half live.

But if we know that Sunak is so far removed from the rest of us, we may also draw logical conclusions about his ability to create policies for everybody in the UK, no matter how deprived – or his lack of any such ability.

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Bake Off judge quits Tories over food standards. She was fine with all the other horrific policies

The media – in this case, the Mail – want to draw your attention to the fact that Bake Off judge Prue Leith has ended her membership of the Conservatives over a policy that her Tory MP son supports.

Isn’t it more revealing that she was only upset by the policy that directly affected her?

The Tories could do anything to other people and she didn’t mind at all.

Austerity has killed many thousands – Leith was quite happy about that.

Homelessness and hate crime did not stir her from her work.

She didn’t even bat an eyelid when her son voted to starve English children who have been forced into food poverty by the Conservative Party’s policies.

But the possible arrival of diseased foodstuffs from the United States has outraged her enough to quit her party membership.

I don’t know…

Does she really think the population of the UK need to be protected from low-quality foods, after thinking they didn’t deserve protection from Tory-led austerity, hate and starvation?

Or is it a pose she thinks she has to take as a media personality on a food-related TV show?

Here’s the relevant part of the story:

Prue Leith has quit the Conservative Party after the Government blocked an attempt to enshrine high food standards in law.

A Conservative source told The Mail on Sunday Ms Leith has … cancelled her party membership after growing unhappy with the Government’s stance.

Ms Leith’s son Danny Kruger, the Tory MP for Devizes in Wiltshire, voted with the Government on the Agriculture Bill, defeating an amendment that would have protected British farmers.

And here’s the public reaction:

Yes indeed.

I have never watched Bake Off.

Considering the fact that it has employed a person like Leith, I can honestly say:

I won’t be watching Bake Off in the future, either. Who knows what other abhorrent views are held by the people working on it?

Source: Prue Leith quits Conservative Party in protest at Government’s stance over foods standards | Daily Mail Online

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Brexit: Your Tory MPs have betrayed UK agriculture after promising not to

Chicken: if this one was of the US chlorine-washed variety, do you think Boris Johnson would be soiling his hands with it?

We knew that Tory promises were no good, didn’t we? So we did 14 million people vote for them last December?

I’ve never found an answer for that one.

The usual old chestnut that “the other side were worse” is plainly wrong. Labour’s offer – and leader – was a vast improvement on Johnson and his rabble, as anybody can see.

They can certainly see it now, anyway.

Today’s scandal is that Brexit will now cause a flood of cheap food imports into the UK that will destroy our farming industry and poison our people.

Tories: you voted for this. Brexiters: you voted for this. Indeed, many farmers voted for this.

Here’s what they promised:

But (as Si Anderson puts it in earthy terms above), yesterday evening’s (October 12) vote in Parliament ensures that the Tories will be able to compromise those protections, just to get a deal with the United States:

Farmers and food campaigners were defeated on Monday night in their attempts to enshrine high food safety and animal welfare practices in British law.

Several prominent backbench Tory MPs rebelled against the government to vote for amendments to the agriculture bill that would have given legal status to the standards, but the rebels were too few to overcome the government’s 80-seat majority and the key amendment fell by 332 votes to 279 after an often impassioned debate.

The government argued that giving current standards legal status was unnecessary as ministers had already committed to ensuring that UK food standards would be kept in any post-Brexit trade agreements.

However, critics fear that the lack of a legally binding commitment in the agriculture bill will allow future imports of sub-standard food that will undercut British produce and expose consumers to risk.

Be honest; given Johnson’s record of u-turning on his promises, this means chlorinated chicken for dinner. It will be cheap at the shop, but it will cost us our entire agriculture industry.

And that is what Boris Johnson intended from the start – before the 2016 referendum, even – it seems.

Here’s what we’ll be getting:

Boris Johnson and his cronies won’t be getting chlorine-washed chicken, of course – they’ll be able to afford the higher-quality meats. But you will be in danger.

Opponents of Brexit have taken the opportunity to remind us all of Boris Johnson’s words in 2016 – so we can remind him at the appropriate time…

… not that it will make a difference. He does what he likes. You voted for that, Tories. You voted for it, Brexiters.

Here’s how it’s panning out:

Just to rub salt into the wound, it seems support for remaining in the EU is rocketing, with 57 per cent of the nation now in favour of it.

What a shame. After three years of fighting over it (up to the election in 2019), that debate is over. The Brexiters got what they wanted and you have been shafted. Nobody currently in power will do anything to reverse the decision.

Still, there remain a few optimists who think there will be recourse to law if harm can be shown as a result of this decision:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Tory ministers are above the law.

The police and CPS actively avoid investigating any allegations of crime or wrongdoing by our elected government.

And Dominic Cummings could go on a murder spree in Barnard Castle and he would still walk free at the end of it.

But you can bet that a lot more people will suffer because of last night’s decision by Parliament to poison our farming industry, and our people.

Source: MPs reject calls by campaigners to enshrine food safety in UK law | Politics | The Guardian

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Tory lies about Universal Credit are STILL being used – to harm vulnerable benefit claimants

‘Not all correct’: It turns out that the DWP’s ad campaign didn’t set the record straight… in other words, it was crooked.

A keystone of the Tory claim that Universal Credit makes lives better has been ruled misleading by an advertising watchdog – but is still being used to trick people into signing up for the failed “benefit”.

The claim – that “people move into work faster” under Universal Credit “fails to meet the basic standards of truthfulness and honesty that we demand of soap powder commercials”, according to Paul Morrissey, in a letter to The Guardian.

It was featured in a series of adverts that appeared in Metro and MailOnline.

But not only has it been used 67 times by Conservative MPs defending Universal Credit in Parliament (as well as in countless media interviews), it also indicates that officials in the DWP “seem to have been willing participants in attempts by the government to manipulate the evidence… rather than providing an objective analysis of its impact”, according to fellow scribe Alan Spence.

The claim breached the advertising code under rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 3.9 (Qualification) and 3.11 (Exaggeration) – and the DWP has been “neither able to satisfactorily explain its actions or apologise for the harm they will have caused to the people who may have moved on to Universal Credit as a result”, according to Raji Hunjan, CEO of Zacchaeus 2000 Trust, the first anti-poverty charity to complain about the adverts.

She said the ruling had come too late, as the ad campaign has ended.

So Z2K has launched a public campaign calling for an apology from the DWP and an independent investigation into how and why these adverts came to be authorised.

Ms Hunjan wrote: “It is vital that we the public can trust government departments to be telling us the truth, particularly in being clear about their strategies to ensure that the social security system works as a safety net to reduce the numbers of people now living in poverty in the UK.

“Instead of using taxpayers’ money on a failed PR campaign, the DWP must now start engaging meaningfully with the widespread evidence of the impact of welfare reform on pushing people into poverty.”

Do you think it will?

This Writer would rather see punitive action taken against those within the DWP – and the Conservative Party – who thought it would be a wizard wheeze to publish a pack of lies.

I would also like to see the DWP broken up and a return to the more supportive ethos of the former Department for Social Security.

For that, we need a Labour government.

That’s a fact we can all trust.

Source: Untangling the lies told about universal credit | Letters | Society | The Guardian

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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