1. Christopher Chandler complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the New European breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined: “Mum’s the word”, published on 15 March 2018.
2. The article was a comment piece. In the piece, the columnist had claimed that the “controversial think tank”, “Legatum”, was being “wound up”, and said that three of its luminaries were now “decamping to another ‘free market think tank’ called the Institute of Economic Affairs”. The columnist speculated on the individuals who might be funding this organisation; the columnist said that they had contacted its spokesperson to ask whether the complainant was one of them, but had not received a “straight yes or no”. The columnist identified the complainant as a financier who had made his fortune in the “wild capitalism days of Russia” and claimed that he was a “big backer of Brexit”.
3. The complainant, along with his three partners, founded the Legatum Group in 2006: this is a private investment partnership based in Dubai. The Legatum Group, through its philanthropic arm, Legatum Foundation Limited, is a donor to the think tank, the Legatum Institute Foundation.
4. The complainant said that the entity identified in the article as being “wound-up” was unrelated to him and the Legatum Institute Foundation. He said that the suggestion in the article that this entity was being wound up, was inaccurate. He expressed concern that no attempts were made by the newspaper to contact him or the Legatum Group in order to ascertain the accurate position, prior to the publication of the article.
5. The complainant denied that he was a “big backer of Brexit”; he said that he had never publicly commented on Brexit, and had never made donations to any organisation campaigning either for or against Britain remaining in the EU. The complainant further said that the article had implied that he was donor to the Institute of Economic Affairs, which was inaccurate.
6. The newspaper said that the article was a diary column written by an extremely well respected and experienced diary writer. It said that no comment was sought from the complainant or the Legatum Institute Foundation because the piece was a diary item and not a news story, as was standard practice in diary articles and opinion columns. However, in light of the complainant’s case that the article contained errors, it said that it was happy to put the record straight as soon as possible in order to try to resolve matters promptly.
Relevant Code Provisions
7. 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.
8. page no later than the original piece appeared, as well as on its website.
In the March 15 edition of the New European, the Mandrake diary item written by Tim Walker and titled “Mum’s the word” contained a number of inaccuracies.
Firstly, the diary item said that the Legatum think tank was being wound up. In fact, the Legatum entity which was wound up in the Cayman Islands was not the Legatum Institute Foundation in the UK, and the Legatum think tank continues its varied research and programmatical work.
Secondly, the item said that Christopher Chandler was “a big backer of Brexit”. In fact, Christopher Chandler is not a big backer of Brexit, and has never publicly commented on Brexit or donated to any organisations campaigning for or against Britain remaining in the EU.
Finally, the diary item implied that Christopher Chandler is among the donors to the Institute of Economic Affairs (“IEA”). Christopher Chandler does not donate to the IEA, nor has he ever done so.
We are happy to apologise to Legatum and Christopher Chandler and set the record straight.
9. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to his satisfaction.
10. As the complaint was successfully mediated, the Complaints Committee did not make a determination as to whether there had been any breach of the Code.
Date complaint received: 30/07/2018
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 16/08/2018Back to ruling listing