IPSO upholds two complaints against Express over inaccurate reporting of Islam

Press regulator IPSO has upheld two complaints against Express.co.uk over inaccurate reports relating to Islam.

Miqdaad Versi complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation about the articles, claiming they both breached Clause 1 (accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

The first story, published on Express.co.uk on 18 November, ran with the headline: “Anger as less than A THIRD of Muslim nations sign up to coalition against ISIS.

The article reported that Matthew Rycroft, the UK’s permanent representative to the United Nations (UN), had “taken aim” at some Muslim nations and “slammed” them for not “clamping down on extremism”.

The article quoted from Rycroft’s speech to the UN, in which he highlighted that 18 out of 57 Muslim-majority states that were part of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation had signed up to the Global Coalition against Islamic State (aka Daesh).

It also quoted Rycroft as praising Egypt and the United Arab Emirates for the work both countries had done countering the “hate preached by Daesh”.

Versi told IPSO’s Complaints Committee that Rycroft’s speech did not express any anger at Muslim nations and that it was misleading to summarise the speech as having done so.

Versi also complained that there had been a further breach of Clause 1 of the Code because the publication had not offered him a right to reply.

He told IPSO that he “should have the right to reply in relation to all inaccurate reporting of Muslims or Islam” because of his “personal work pursuing complaints on such matters” and his role as Assistant Secretary General at the Muslim Council of Britain.

Upon the complaint being filed, Express.co.uk amended the headline, published a stand-alone correction online and added a footnote to the online article.

IPSO partially upheld the complaint but ruled the correction published by Express.co.uk had been sufficient remedy.

The second Express.co.uk article published on 4 December, was headlined: “Some Muslims so isolated in UK they believe country is 75% Islamic, says shock report.”

The story focused on the Casey Report on the impact of immigration across the UK.

The article claimed that some Muslim communities are so isolated they believe that 75 per cent of British people were Muslim.

Versi complained that this was untrue and that the report had referred to one mainly Asian secondary school in which a survey had found that pupils believed that Britain was between 50 and 90 per cent Asian.

Express.co.uk said its story had been based on information given by a source to another newspaper before the Casey Report was published and as such, at the time of publication, it was not known what the report would contain.

IPSO upheld the complaint that the article had been inaccurate. As Express.co.uk had already deleted the article and published a correction on its website, this was deemed sufficient remedy.

After the verdicts, Versi – who has made several previous complaints to IPSO – told Press Gazette: “It is unfortunate that once again the Express has demonstrated its callous disregard for accuracy when it comes to reporting about Muslims and Islam.

“What needs to happen for action to be taken by IPSO to make these news outlets be more responsible in their reporting? In a climate where hate crime against Muslims is on the rise, is it too much to ask for basic accuracy?”

Press Gazette research published earlier this year found that British journalists appear far more likely to write negative misleading stories about Islam than other religions.

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