Resolution Statement – 28209-20 Silverman v thejc.com
Summary of Complaint
1. Roger Silverman complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that thejc.com breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Labour shadow minister backs 'antisemitism is Israeli smear' candidate for party election” published on 17 September 2020.
2. The article reported that an MP had supported a former Militant member and “hardline anti-Zionist activist”, who was named. It reported comments in which the activist had been critical of the actions of the Israeli state and explained that while the man had refused to call for the destruction of Israel, he had openly declared his belief that Zionism was “racism”. It also reported that the activist was suspended by the Labour party in 2016 in an investigation that looked into his involvement with the Militant organisation, as well as comments he had made on social media. However, it reported that he was recently reinstated into the Labour party.
3. The complainant was the man named in the article as the former Militant member and “hardline anti-Zionist activist”. He said that the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 on several points. He said that he had broken links with Militant thirty years ago, and so it was misleading to link him with it. He said that it was misleading to describe him as an “anti-Zionist” as he was not opposed to the state of Israel in principle, but instead was opposed to the reasons for its foundation and its activities. He also said that the article implied he had been suspended from the Labour party for longer than was the case – he said that his suspension was only for 3 months. He said that the article should have included information about his Jewish heritage, which he said was relevant in the context of the article. Finally, he also said that he was distressed by the newspaper’s failure to respond to his complaint when he contacted it directly
4. The newspaper did not accept that there was a breach of the Code. It provided a transcript the complainant had published of an interview which was carried out as part of his suspension hearing from the Labour Party. The newspaper said it showed that the complainant was asked repeatedly about his links with Militant as part of his suspension. It said that with regards to the claim that the complainant was an anti-Zionist, he had frequently referenced this view and made it a central point of his campaigns. It provided quotes in which the complainant said that he was “no longer a Zionist” and that he was described by a different person as being a “Jewish anti-Zionist”.
Relevant Code Provisions
5. 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.
6. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
7. During IPSO’s investigation, the publication agreed to give the complainant a right of reply, which would be attached to the online article. It also apologised to the complainant for the failure to acknowledge or respond to the complaint when he contacted the newspaper directly.
8. The complainant said that this would resolve his complaint.
9. 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: 27/09/2020
Date decision issued: 03/12/2020Back to ruling listing