At the start of August I made a complaint through Ligali about the Daily Mail to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO). On 23 July the Afriphobic tabloid had published an article by Martin Robinson, its Chief Reporter and Paddy Dinham about the Rashan Charles Vigil with the headline “Black Lives Matter supporters protest outside London police station over the death of a father, 20, who died after swallowing something and being restrained by officers”.
The article was full of the Daily Mail's usual biased nonsense but my particular complaint mainly focused on an image that had been included alongside the comment “Furious campaigners set fire to bins and blocked roads outside a London police station”.
As a witness to the incident I can tell you this was a blatant lie. My complaint read;
1) The article in question inaccurately associates “Black Lives Matter supporters” with setting ‘fire to bins’, but there is no evidence that this is the case.
2) The article inaccurately conflates the protest outside the police station with the vigil outside the shop where Rashan Charles was killed.
3) The article states there were multiple bins set alight. This is untrue, only one bin was alight for less than five minutes after which the young people present at the vigil extinguished the flames (which they did not start).
I then confirmed to IPSO that as someone who was present at both the police station protest and the candlelit vigil, I and many other independent witnesses could confirm that the Daily Mail’s article was incorrect.
On the 8th August 2017, IPSO rejected my complaint and I requested an appeal to the complaints committee on 10th August. Two weeks later Catherine Thomas from IPSO replied back stating;
“It understood you were concerned that the article breached Clause 1 (Accuracy), because it misleadingly implied supporters of Black Lives Matter had set fire to bins and because it conflated the vigil outside the shop with the protest outside the police station. The article stated that “The crowd marched peacefully from the police station, behind a line of uniformed officers, to the shop where the incident happened” and the caption beneath the photograph of the bin said “A bin set alight following a march by members of Hackney Stand Up To Racism protest”.
The Committee noted these events had occurred on the same day, in the same area, and were all responses to the death of Rashan Charles. The Committee noted that different people might have been involved in different events but considered that it was not inaccurate for the newspaper to state that the protesters had held Black Lives Matter placards, that a protest and a vigil had taken place, and that the bin in the photograph had been set alight following the protest.
The Committee noted you were also concerned that the article was inaccurate because the opening line stated “Furious campaigners set fire to bins …” when in fact only one bin had been set alight. The Committee considered that, in the full circumstances outlined above, this was not significantly inaccurate and declined to re-open your complaint.”
IPSO covers for Daily Mail
So what can we do?
Now whilst this many of us may not be surprised by IPSO’s refusal to even reconsider looking at the complaint, the implications are huge. The article attacking both the Rashan Charles family and friends as well as supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement still stands uncorrected despite the media regulator acknowledging that the contents are inaccurate. The online version may have had a few quiet tweaks but anyone who read a printed version has not been told of the falsehoods in a correction announcement. This reveals that any British newspaper regulated by IPSO is free to publish inaccurate content as long as it is ‘moderately’ truthful.
They can exaggerate facts and blatantly lie as long as they don’t make it too outrageous.
With the media regulator in its pocket, the newspaper industry knows that unless a complainant has access to the huge funds required to launch a libel case then there is no realistic chance of anyone challenging the lies or ‘alternative facts’ peddled as news by tabloids like the Daily Mail being successful.
As a result, fake stories like the woman attacked by “flesh-eating maggots” in her weave still remain on the Daily Mails online website masquerading as fact despite it being five years since the tale has been discredited as rubbish. No doubt IPSO would not find this inaccurate enough to take action.
One of the best ways we can combat this is by refusing to buy or promote deceitful media outlets and instead exposing their lies using our own trusted independent media networks.
This “fake news” era we find ourselves in isn’t defined as articles which we disagree with (or disagree with us, as suggested by the current American president), it’s any form of published media selling opinion as fact or deliberately making up “clickbait” stories for commercial or political gain.
Don’t be fooled. Check the facts.
Toyin Agbetu is a community educator, artist-activist-anthropologist, independent film maker and Pan African community worker of Yoruba heritage, Ogun spirit. He was born in Hackney, London UK
External LinksBlack Lives Matter supporters protest outside London police station over the death of a father, 20, who died after swallowing something and being restrained by officersWoman suffers terrible headaches after she is fitted with human hair weave taken from a CORPSE that was filled with flesh-eating maggots that burrowed into her skinToothless press watchdog Ipso not delivering in key areas, say MPsRashan Charles family air their concerns about openness and fairness
MPs label IPSO toothless
The young people who knew Rashan need to grieve too.Will the inquest into Rashan Charles killing deliver justice?
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