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Friday, 27 March 2015

IPSO needs to look into Mirror...

No punches pulled by Greenslade here; he's vituperative in his condemnation of IPSO's process in investigating a possible 'fishing' case that snared a Tory MP, sending nude photos to a fake female Twitter account. Greenslade is indignant that IPSO, which took up the case without a complaint (quite a change from the PCC, condemned by the Culture Select Committee for its general refusal to consider 3rd party cases), didn't interview the journalist involved, instead accepting that the (Sunday) Mirror would pass on whatever was pertinent.

The Mirror published a story several other papers, including The Sun, had turned down.
It 'exposed' a Tory Minister, Brooks Newham, for sending nude photos of himself to a journalist who posed as a young woman. He resigned once the story came out.
The journalist used nude pics of real women who had not given their permission to help entice the Minister.
Newham himself did not complain to IPSO; in stark contrast to the general approach of the PCC (condemned by the Culture Select Committee for routinely refusing to investigate 'third party' complaints), IPSO decided to launch an investigation without any complaint.
Rather more like the PCC (and the source of Greenslade's contempt), IPSO's 'investigation' was ... minimal. It simply accepted the word of the Mirror, and didn't interview the journalist, or ask other papers why they'd rejected the story. Outcome: NOT GUILTY. That's remarkably similar to the PCC's 'investigation' into Hackgate, which resulted in them actually condemning the Guardian for unjustly besmirching the good name of the press!

Leaving aside the fact that Wickham stupidly used pictures of two real women, who rightly complained about the misuse of their images, what was at issue was the nature of his trawl.
Was the net cast wide in order to see who would respond - a so-called fishing expedition - or was Newmark always the sole target?
Ipso, on the basis of its inquiries, decided that Wickham did have information that Newmark had approached other women on social media. Therefore, his use of subterfuge was necessary because there was no other way to prove that he had made such approaches.
But here’s the thing. Ipso did not interview or communicate in any way with Wickham. It was therefore unable to test his claim that he was not indulging in a fishing expedition (which would have placed him in breach of the editors’ code of practice).
Instead, Ipso relied entirely on evidence provided by the Sunday Mirror on the understanding that it was responsible for the publication and the story’s provenance.
The paper had accepted Wickham’s claim that he had prior knowledge of Newmark’s activities. It is relevant at this point to note, as Ipso does not, that other newspapers approached with the story by Wickham, including the Sun and Mail on Sunday, rejected the chance to publish.
Again, those newspapers were not asked by Ipso’s complaints committee to explain why they turned down the story. I am aware of the reasons that Wickham was turned away by the Sun and I believe Ipso should have made an effort to discover them.
These flaws raise significant questions about the thoroughness of an Ipso investigation that lasted half a year although I concede that it does not mean that Ipso reached the wrong verdict.
There cannot be any doubt that Newmark was guilty of “serious impropriety” and that such impropriety contradicted his role as the promoter of Conservative women MPs.
But the central point at issue here is not whether the story turned out to be accurate and relevant, but whether the news-gathering methods were ethical.


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