BBC News website inaccurate in reporting of Lib Dem MP's 'the Jews' comments

A story on the BBC News website about comments made by a Liberal Democrat MP criticising "the Jews" over Israeli policy was inaccurate, according to the BBC Trust.

In a ruling published today, the Trust’s editorial standards committee partly upheld a complaint about the January 2013 article, titled “David Ward MP ‘sorry’ over Israel criticism”.

The Trust agreed that the story was misleading, as the complainant stated, because Ward’s comments related to the Jewish people as a whole, rather than Israeli Jews.  

Speaking at the signing of a Holocaust memorial book, Ward said: "Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.”

In its judgment of whether the article was misleading, the Trust’s committee noted an EU definition of anti-Semitism that says “holding Jews responsible for actions of the state of Israel” was a manifestation of anti-Semitism.

The committee concluded that the article’s headline and opening sentence did not accurately convey the story’s meaning, which was that Ward had apologised for addressing his comments to Jews, rather than Israel.

In its judgment, the committee said: ”The committee noted too that due accuracy is not simply a matter of getting facts right. Given the sensitivities, the committee considered the article concerned a controversial issue and it was incumbent on the BBC to consider all relevant facts, information and opinions to achieve due accuracy.”

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