IPSO’s response (Bye-EU Tapestry)

When I voiced my protest against the recent cartoon in The Sun (see previous post), some people said “It is a CARTOON! it is just a cartoon.” That was my point. It wasn’t.

This was not “just a cartoon”. Its sentiment was very real, in line with the British government’s deliberate hostile climate creation for foreigners (see box at bottom of post) and the secret eugenics meetings that have been going on at UCL, and of which apparently white supremacists have been part.

Also, the tone of the captions under the cartoon seemed to want to make clear that this cartoon was not meant as a joke.

But I also feel that it is not right to condemn entire newspapers. All British media are biased, and the so-called tabloids contain good articles as well. If you want to have a decent idea of what is going on in Britain, you have to follow all media because they sort of complement each other. (Unfortunately, some of their websites are very heavy – undoably slow.) The tabloids may emphasize the prevailing “climate”.

One of them (I’ve forgotten which one) is associated with the Conservatives (also known as Tories). The BBC appears government-controlled to a large degree. The Independent probably is closest to what the LibDems focus on and the Guardian swings between LibDems views and Conservative Views. (Labour is mainly a big shouting crowd, like UKIP.)

Anyway, I am far from the only one who complained at IPSO and not the only one who was not holding one’s breath either. Today, I got the following response from John Buckingham at IPSO:

Dear Complainants,

I write further to our earlier email regarding your complaint about a cartoon headlined โ€œBye-EU Tapestryโ€ published by The Sun on 18 January 2018.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) has received a number of complaints about this article. In order to be able to respond in a timely manner, we have prepared a response which deals with the various concerns raised by complainants.

When we receive a complaint, IPSOโ€™s Executive staff reviews it to ensure that the issues raised fall within our remit, and represent a possible breach of the Editorsโ€™ Code of Practice. We have read your complaint carefully, and have decided that it does not raise a possible breach of the Editorsโ€™ Code.

Several complainants raised concerns under Clause 1 (Accuracy) that the cartoon was an inaccurate portrayal of the original tapestry, or of the Brexit process, and that they disagreed with the attitude it displayed with regard to the UKโ€™s withdrawal from the EU. The cartoon was clearly an imitation of the Bayeux Tapestry, using caricature to tell the story of the Brexit referendum and withdrawal negotiations. It would not be understood as a literal depiction of what has occurred to date, or what would occur as part of the withdrawal process. The newspaper was entitled to express its opinion towards the EU and the Brexit process, via the cartoon, and the fact that some complainants disagreed with these views did not provide grounds for finding that the cartoon was factually inaccurate. For these reasons, we considered that the concerns raised under Clause 1 (Accuracy) did not raise a possible breach of the Code.

Some complainants said that the cartoon breached Clause 12 (Discrimination) because it discriminated against EU nationals or against those opposed to Brexit. Clause 12 states as follows:

i) The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s, race, colour, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.

ii) Details of an individual’s race, colour, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story.

Clause 12 is designed to protect individuals mentioned by the press from discrimination based on their race, colour, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation or any physical or mental illness or disability. It does not apply to groups or categories of people. The concern that the cartoon discriminated against EU nationals, or those who opposed Brexit in general did not therefore engage the terms of Clause 12.

Many complainants raised concerns that the cartoon incited violence against EU nationals or against those opposed to Brexit. We should explain that IPSO considers complaints under the Editorsโ€™ Code of Practice, which does not directly cover issues of incitement. Complainants may have been referring to incitement to racial hatred, which is an offence created by legislation. If complainants believe that this offence has been committed, they may wish to contact the police.

Some complainants also said that the cartoon breached Clause 3 (Harassment) because it incited harassment of EU nationals. Clause 3 generally refers to the way journalists behave when researching a news story, and is meant to protect people from being repeatedly approached by the press against their wishes. The concern that the cartoon promoted harassment of EU nationals did not relate to this, and so there was no possible breach of Clause 3.

Finally, some complainants raised concerns that the cartoon was tasteless, offensive and insensitive. The Editorsโ€™ Code does not address issues of taste or offence. It is designed to deal with any possible conflicts between the newspapersโ€™ rights to freedom of expression and the rights of individuals, such as their right to privacy. Newspapers and magazines are free to publish what they think is appropriate as long as the rights of individuals โ€“ which are protected under the Code โ€“ are not infringed on.

You are entitled to request that the Executiveโ€™s decision not to take forward your complaint be reviewed by IPSOโ€™s Complaints Committee. To do so you will need to write to us in the next seven days, setting out the reasons why you believe the decision should be reviewed. Please note that we are unable to accept requests for review made seven days after the date of this email.

We would like to thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider the points you have raised.

Best wishes,

John Buckingham
Cc The Sun

I will have a think about that review.

Here is the promised image:

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