Press watchdog reprimands Daily Telegraph over ‘misleading’ Corbyn anti-Semitism claims

Britain's opposition Labour Party Leader, Jeremy Corbyn. © Toby Melville
The Daily Telegraph has been reprimanded by the Independent Press Standards Organization (IPSO) for making “significantly misleading” claims ‘without qualification’ about Labour MPs accusing party leader Jeremy Corbyn of being anti-Semitic.

IPSO upheld a complaint by shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Ivan Lewis regarding an article published on August 15 under the headline “Labour grandees round on ‘anti-Semite’ Corbyn’.

The piece claimed Lewis has attacked Corbyn over his “anti-Semitic rhetoric” – a claim he denies.

The Telegraph piece cited an article Lewis wrote for the Labour List website in which he said Corbyn had “very poor judgment in expressing support for and failing to speak out against people who have engaged not in legitimate criticism of Israeli governments but in anti-Semitic rhetoric.

It saddens me to have to say to some on the left of British politics that anti-racism means zero tolerance of anti-Semitism, no ifs, and no buts. I have said the same about Islamophobia and other forms of racism to a minority of my constituents who make unacceptable statements.

Lewis said these comment had been misinterpreted by the Telegraph and that he had not claimed Corbyn is an anti-Semite.

The paper argued during the IPSO proceedings that its headline should not been seen separately from the main article, which carried the main quotes, and offered to carry a statement in the paper explaining this. Lewis turned down the offer and the paper has since amended the headline and the article.

IPSO found the piece had “prominently and without qualification” suggested Corbyn is “anti-Semitic” and that “the coverage was therefore significantly misleading.

This misleading impression was not remedied by the quotation of the [full] remarks elsewhere in the article. The newspaper had distorted [Lewis’s] comment on this issue,” it ruled.

IPSO ordered the Telegraph to publish an online amendment and to include a “front-page reference” in the print edition because that was where the allegation first appeared.