Resolution Statement – 21908-23 Sultany v The Jewish Chronicle

Decision: Resolved - IPSO mediation

Resolution Statement – 21908-23 Sultany v The Jewish Chronicle

Summary of Complaint

1. Nimer Sultany complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Jewish Chronicle breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), Clause 2 (Privacy) and Clause 14 (Confidential Sources) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Academics claim Hamas atrocities are part of ‘legitimate struggle’ against Israel”, published on 20 October 2023.

2. The article, which appeared on page 5 of the newspaper, reported that a number of UK-based academics had “appeared to celebrate or justify the violence” committed by Hamas on 7 October. The article identified the complainant – citing his role at a named university – as “another academic who appeared to offer support to Hamas”, and reported that “[h]e posted on X/Twitter on the day of the attacks”: “You cannot offer support to freedom fighters in Ukraine as they resist Russian occupation but not in Palestine against Israeli occupation unless you have no conscience”. The article then stated, "[the complainant] told the [publication]: “Any statement or imputation published by Jewish Chronicle that I endorse Hamas or terrorism would be false and seriously defamatory””.

3. The article also appeared online in substantially the same format, under the same headline.

4. The complainant said the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1. He denied that he had “posted” the social media post on X (formerly known as Twitter); instead, he had reposted it and which, in his view, did not equate to an endorsement of the attack on 7 October - the complainant said that it is “well known” that reposting does not equal endorsement. He also stated that the publication “had full knowledge” that he had reposted and not “posted” the tweet prior to publication, as it used the term “repost” in correspondence between the parties before the article was published.

5. Further, he stated that the post was taken out of context; it did not mention either Hamas or particular action(s) taken by the group on 7 October and instead concerned the double standards that applied to Ukraine and Palestine. Additionally, he also noted that his post had been published before the full details and consequences of the attacks committed on 7 October were readily available, and the article omitted to include this information.

6. The complainant also said the article breached Clause 2 and Clause 14 where it reported the statement he had provided to the newspaper, via e-mail, prior to the article’s publication. He said this email made clear that the statement was “Strictly Confidential & Not for Publication”.

7. The publication did not accept a breach of the Editors’ Code. Notwithstanding this, on 31 October, upon receipt of the complaint from IPSO and 11 days after the article’s publication, the newspaper accepted the article should have stated that the complainant "reposted" the social media post. As a gesture of goodwill, and in an attempt to resolve the complaint, the publication offered to both correct the online article on this point, and remove the disputed statement the complainant provided over email from the article.

8. The complainant did not accept this as a satisfactory resolution to his complaint.

9. In response, the publication agreed to remove all reference to the complainant from the online version of the article. Although the complainant welcomed this, he said that a retraction should be made online and in print. The publication did not consider the wording proposed by the complainant for these items to be appropriate.

Relevant Clause 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.

Clause 2 (Privacy)*

i) Everyone is entitled to respect for their private and family life, home, physical and mental health, and correspondence, including digital communications.

ii) Editors will be expected to justify intrusions into any individual's private life without consent. In considering an individual's reasonable expectation of privacy, account will be taken of the complainant's own public disclosures of information and the extent to which the material complained about is already in the public domain or will become so.

iii) It is unacceptable to photograph individuals, without their consent, in public or private places where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Clause 14 (Confidential sources)

Journalists have a moral obligation to protect confidential sources of information.

Mediated Outcome

10. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.

11. During IPSO’s investigation the publication agreed to remove the disputed text from the online article and add the following footnote correction:

This article has been amended to remove a mention of Dr Nimer Sultany. We agree that this part of the article was inaccurate and potentially misleading, and apologise for that.

12. The publication also agreed to publish the following correction on page 20 on its newspaper:

An article we published on 19 October 2023 has been amended to remove a mention of Dr Nimer Sultany. We agree that this part of the article was inaccurate and potentially misleading, and apologise for that.

13. The complainant said that this would resolve the matter to his satisfaction.

14. 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: 23/10/2023

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 19/12/2023

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