Daily Mail's 'Enemies of the People' front page receives more than 1,000 complaints to IPSO

Stories published in The Sun and the Daily Express that referred to Brexit High Court case claimant Gina Miller as 'foreign-born' also sparked dozens of complaints, the watchdog said

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The Independent Online

A Daily Mail front page likened by critics to that of 1930s Nazi propaganda for the way it attacked a High Court ruling on Brexit has received more than 1,000 formal complaints and counting, newspaper regulator IPSO has revealed.

An issue of the right-leaning newspaper published on 4 November featured pictures of the three judges alongside the headline, “Enemies of the people”.

The three judges had ruled Parliament must be consulted before the Government could trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which would start the UK’s formal process of EU withdrawal.

The splash was compared by many on social media to a front page published in a 1933 German newspaper, which pictured people who had had their citizenship revoked by the Nazi regime alongside the headline: “Traitors of the people”.

Since its publication, the Daily Mail’s front page has so far sparked 1,108 complaints to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, citing various alleged breaches of the Editor’s Code of Conduct. 

Most have fallen under Clause 1 for “accuracy”, while others have complained of breaches under Clause 3 (harassment) and Clause 12 (discrimination). 

The Independent understands some have even complained under Clause 4 (intrusion into grief or shock). 

Similarly, 83 complaints have been made about a Daily Express article headlined, “We must get out of the EU”, which referred to the same story.

An article published by The Sun entitled, “Who do you think you are?” resulted in 60 complaints after it argued the High Court case against the Government was led by a “foreign-born multi-millionaire”, Gina Miller.

Commenting on the British media’s coverage of the High Court decision, senior Bishop Nick Baines said the public should be “very alarmed”.

High Court rules Government cannot trigger Article 50 without parliamentary approval

He told BBC Radio 4's Sunday programme, shortly after the Daily Mail’s publication: “The press don't just reflect the public discourse, they also shape it.

“The last time we saw things like the photographs of judges on the front page of a newspaper described as enemies of the people is in places like Nazi Germany, in Zimbabwe and places like that.”

A spokesman from IPSO told The Independent: “We are still receiving and processing complaints on each of the pieces, so it is likely that those numbers will rise.”

He said each complaint will be assessed and staff will judge whether or not to investigate. 

“We do not comment on any complaint during the assessment process,” he added. 

By comparison, the article that has generated the highest number of complaints to IPSO was a front page from The Sun in November 2015, headlined “1 in 5 Brit Muslims’ sympathy for jihadis”. That saw 3,000 complaints made and IPSO ultimately ruled that the article was misleading.

The second most complained about piece was a commentary on Channel 4 presenter Fatima Manji written by Kelvin Mackenzie and published in The Sun in July this year. IPSO received 1,900 complaints after the columnist questioned whether it was right for Ms Manji to appear on screen wearing a hijab while she reported on the Nice massacre. The watchdog rejected a lead complaint from Ms Manji in a controversial ruling last month.

Associated Newspapers, which owns the Daily Mail, has been contacted for comment.

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