Jewish Chronicle gives apology and compensation out of court to Labour member for “litany of lies”

Right-wing paper pays undisclosed damages and issues public apology
Audrey White and the Jewish Chronicle’s apology

The right-wing Jewish Chronicle has paid compensation and issued a public apology to a Liverpool Labour member it libelled. The apology states that its claims about Audrey White were ‘untrue’:

But the anodyne language of the apology does not do justice to the reality. IPSO has been described as a ‘sham’ to create the ‘illusion of reform’ – and is run by the publications it’s supposed to regulate. But even IPSO responded to Audrey White’s complaint with an absolute evisceration of the Chronicle’s behaviour and attitude – not only toward Audrey White but toward IPSO’s investigation:

The publication had published a claim the accuracy of which it could not defend; the result was a breach of Clause 1 (i). The articles’ claim that the complainant had made “false” allegations concerning the actions of the police, was significant given its seriousness, and furthered the misleading impression of the complainant’s conduct towards Labour politicians. Upon receipt of the correspondence provided by the complainant, the newspaper had not offered to correct this significantly inaccurate claim, in breach of Clause 1 (ii)…

The Committee expressed significant concerns about the newspaper’s handling of this complaint. The newspaper had failed, on a number of occasions, to answer questions put to it by IPSO and it was regrettable the newspaper’s responses had been delayed. The Committee considered that the publication’s conduct during IPSO’s investigation was unacceptable. The Committee’s concerns have been drawn to the attention of IPSO’s Standards department.

The paper’s behaviour had been so bad that IPSO was referring the matter to its own standards department.

The Chronicle’s articles – all written by Lee Harpin – included:

  • that White had lied about her date of birth to rejoin Labour
  • that she had been repeatedly warned by the party about bullying
  • that she had falsely claimed a councillor was being investigated by police
  • that she had aggressively interrupted a Jewish MP during a meeting – when a recording proved that she and others had been asked to contribute and the MP had been able to continue speaking in a relaxed

None of this was true. It was all made up. Yet the paper had not bothered to check the facts and then avoided either engaging with its regulator’s complaint or issuing corrections. Even its obligation to publish IPSO’s judgment had been delayed for months, with the findings issued in July and publication taking place in late November.

When the IPSO findings were published, the Merseyside Pensioners’ Association (MPA) to which Ms White belongs issued a statement that included its own damning verdict on the Chronicle’s conduct:

Audrey White, who was nominated as one of BBC Radio 4’s ‘100 most influential women of the century’ (for defending women from sexual abuse in the workplace) was targeted by the Jewish Chronicle with a litany of lies and falsehoods reported by Lee Harpin – an ex-News of the World journalist arrested in connection with the phone-hacking scandal…

The findings make clear that the reporting of the Jewish Chronicle and journalist Lee Harpin fall far below the professional and ethical standards expected of journalists working today — particularly as pertains to accuracy and fact-checking (the most basic principles of reporting).

It seems the Chronicle didn’t think it could demonstrate in court that it had behaved any better than its regulator or the MPA said, or that it could substantiate its claims under oath. So it settled out of court and issued an apology for ‘some’ of its allegations.

The SKWAWKBOX congratulates Ms White for her win.

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