Correction: The headline of this article was updated at 9.20am on 25 August to make clear that IPSO refused to investigate the complaint, rather than dismissing it. The headline previously stated “The press watchdog has dismissed a complaint about the Daily Mail’s ‘wreathgate’ story”. The article itself has not been changed.
Press watchdog the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) has refused to investigate a complaint over the Daily Mail‘s first so-called ‘wreathgate’ story about Jeremy Corbyn.
The Daily Mail and ‘wreathgate’
Writer Alex Tiffin submitted a formal complaint to the IPSO about the Daily Mail‘s story. The paper, with pictures, accused Labour leader Corbyn of “holding [a] wreath”:
feet from the graves of terror leaders linked to the Munich Massacre…
The picture was among a number taken during a service to honour Palestinian ‘martyrs’.
Buried in the cemetery in Tunisia are members of Black September, the terror group which massacred 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics…
One picture places Mr Corbyn close to the grave of another terrorist, Atef Bseiso, intelligence chief of the Palestine Liberation Organisation.
But Tiffin disputed the Daily Mail‘s story. He wrote to IPSO saying the Daily Mail:
had breached Clause 1 of the Editors Code. Clause 1 relates the accuracy of information being presented to the reader.
I went on to say that the use of “Munich terrorists” by the paper is highly misleading. I directed them to several examples proving that the men buried in Tunis are not any of the attackers that took part in the Munich atrocity in 1972. Those terrorists as I wrote last week are buried hundreds of miles away in Libya.
I then went on to add that the men buried in Tunis have been alleged to have been behind the plot but apart from Israel’s claims, this has never been proven.
Channel 4‘s FactCheck website analysed the story. Its verdict was inconclusive, but it raised some points similar to Tiffin’s.
Now, in a response to Tiffin, which he passed to The Canary, IPSO has refused to investigate his complaint. It says:
In the case of third party complaints, we do need to consider the position of the party most closely involved. In this case, the Executive took the view that the alleged inaccuracies related directly to the alleged ‘Munich terrorists’ and their families. We considered it would not be possible or appropriate to investigate and publicly rule on who was involved in the 1972 attacks on Israeli athletes in Munich and where they are buried, without the direct involvement of the families of the alleged attackers, and those with first-hand knowledge of the attacks.
Furthermore, an IPSO investigation and public ruling could have a significant effect on the families of these alleged attackers, and we are concerned about making such a ruling, without their involvement in our investigation as complainants, and without their consent. Taking into account the nature of the alleged inaccuracy, and the position of these families, we decided it would not be appropriate to consider your complaint further.
Further to this, IPSO told The Canary:
IPSO is investigating complaints under Clause (1) Accuracy of the Editors’ Code about the following articles:
Metro CORBYN: I DON’T THINK I LAID A WREATH
The Times Corbyn: I did attend wreath ceremony for Munich killers
The Sun CORBYN: I’M NOT SORRY
The Daily Telegraph Corbyn salute associated with Islamist terror group
The Daily Mail Hate-filled curtain-raiser for Corbyn’s wreath tribute
Daily Express Riddle of who paid for Corbyn trip that ‘honoured terrorists’
These complaints have been made by the Labour Party on behalf of Jeremy Corbyn MP, the subject of the article.
IPSO also received a number of other complaints about the same coverage. Complainants have been informed that we are taking forward The Labour Party’s complaints.
It has written a blog about third party complaints which you can read here.
The Daily Mail article IPSO is investigating is not the one Tiffin complained about. He told The Canary:
IPSO may have stated they are investigating the Labour Party’s complaint but their failure to investigate the article that started the whole ‘wreathgate’ debacle shows that media accountability in this country is dead.
This is one of the most important complaints they’ve had in recent times and their inaction shows we need a change in how the media is held to account.
Tiffin told The Canary he will be appealing IPSO’s decision because:
If they’re not investigating the original article anything else is lip service.
Featured image via the Palestinian Ambassador in Tunisia – Facebook and Alex Tiffin – screengrab