Analysis Breaking

IPSO finds against Jewish Chronicle for smearing Jewish left Labour councillor Jo Bird

Yet another in a string of adverse judgments, compensation and apologies for right-wing rag

Cllr Jo Bird

Usually-tame regulator IPSO – run by the publications it is meant to regulate, unlike independent, Leveson-compliant regulator IMPRESS – has upheld a complaint by Wirral Councillor Jo Bird concerning a smear by the right-wing Jewish Chronicle in another article by its hack Lee Harpin.

Cllr Bird has issued a statement welcoming the judgment and condemning the rag’s appalling track record and credentials, as well as the Chronicle’s erasure of her Jewishness in its reporting:

I welcome IPSO’s finding that ‘The Jewish Chronicle’ is guilty of significant inaccuracy and breached the editors code.

The Press Standards body found that the JC’s report in November 2020 that I “had been suspended for the third time was inaccurate, and it had therefore failed to take care not to publish inaccurate information in breach of Clause 1(i). Where the inaccuracy related to the complainant’s position as a councillor, and inaccurately reported the more serious sanction of suspension, this was a significant inaccuracy requiring correction”.

IPSO, the self-regulator of newspapers, appears unable to address discrimination. I am disappointed it has failed to uphold my complaint about racism, but I am not surprised. The JC erased my Jewishness in articles about anti-Jewish racism, even when the JC recognised other people as Jewish within the same article. Imagine articles about mistreatment of elderly people, where one person was consistently recognised as elderly and another was not. Omission of my Jewishness removed crucial context and means articles were misleading and distorted.

I believe ‘The Jewish Chronicle’ title itself is increasingly misleading and inaccurate. There are other Jewish chronicles such as the Jewish Telegraph and Forward. The publication is neither wholly owned nor written by Jewish people. Jewishness is denied for some of the Jewish people who are chronicled.

IPSO has found nine breaches by the JC in the last three years. In the same period, the JC has paid complainants in at least four libel actions, including Marc Wadsworth last week. Clearly, there are deep-rooted unaddressed problems at the weekly paper. I urge IPSO to launch a formal Standards Investigation.

The right-wing rag recently had to pay substantial damages to black left activist Marc Wadsworth after it printed ‘entirely untrue’ and horrific claims about him – and Wadsworth said it was the fifteenth time that it had been forced to retract or correct information it published about him. The Chronicle has also had to fork out large amounts of cash and print apologies to left-wing Liverpool pensioner Audrey White, to Muslim Labour member Nada al-Sanjari and to Interpal, a Palestinian aid charity.

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