…………….the Daily Express and Daily Mail regularly splash with front-pages of bile-stirring outrage over immigration and exaggerated or even invented stories about Muslims.
As debate rages over press regulation following the Lord Leveson report one issue that should be on the agenda is protection against racism and prejudice.
Under the existing Press Complaints Commission editors have been given a green light to be as racist as they dare provided it is directed against a whole community as opposed to an individual.
This has long been a bugbear of mine. The PCC has frequently been called a paper tiger, a toothless club of editors protecting each others’ backs under the pretext of self-regulation.
And one of the clearest examples of this is their failure to protect communities against headlines springing from made up stories designed to whip up the hatred of their readers rather than inform the public in the public’s interest.
In the PCC’s eyes it just doesn’t matter how personally offended you are about an article. It is of no consequence whether a newspaper attacks the sacred tenets of your faith, stereotypes your community or incites anger that could provoke violence in the streets. If you are not personally named in the piece your only redress is the police and courts.
As a result the likes of the Daily Express and Daily Mail regularly splash with front-pages of bile-stirring outrage over immigration and exaggerated or even invented stories about Muslims.
The Leveson report cited several examples:
The Sun: Ran a fabricated story about a Muslim plot to kill prominent British Jews.
Daily Mail: Ran an inaccurate story headed “Café wins fight to fry bacon after Muslim complaints.”
Daily Mail: Wrongly reported that a judge allowed an immigrant to stay in the UK because his “right to family life” protected his relationship with his cat.
Daily Mail: Wrongly reported that a failed asylum seeker was allowed to stay in Britain “because he goes to the gym.”
Daily Mail: Ran an untrue story that a Tamil hunger striker had been caught on a surveillance camera eating McDonald’s burgers.
Daily Express: Published a front-page headline “Muslim plot to kill the Pope” which had no basis in fact.
Daily Express: Ran a story headlined “Migrants more likely to claim jobless benefits” although the study concerned showed migrants were less likely to claim benefits.
Daily Star: Ran a story about a non-existent ban on selling Remembrance poppies in Muslim areas with a fictional claim that a council was to provide “Muslim-only public loos.”
Daily Star: Ran an entirely speculative story “Asylum seekers eat our donkeys” about nine donkeys disappeared from Greenwich Royal Park.