Kilroy row may put Telegraph bid at risk

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The Independent Online

The media watchdog Ofcom will take into account the row over Robert Kilroy-Silk's "anti-Arab rant" in the Sunday Express when it examines any bid from the paper's owner for The Daily Telegraph.

Matt Peacock, director of communications at Ofcom, said that every bidder for a newspaper such as The Daily Telegraph must give details of complaints made against their existing publications. The details of these objections, together with "the outcome of complaints and details of any policy to apologise or publish corrections" will be considered before giving the green light to a deal.

Ministers have the power to ask Ofcom to investigate whether there are any "public interest" grounds for stopping an interested party from buying the papers.

The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) and the Muslim Council of Britain have led complaints against Mr Kilroy-Silk's column in the Sunday Express, which owned by Richard Desmond who is expected to make a bid for the Telegraph papers. The article, which was published on 4 January, described Arabs as "suicide bombers, limb-amputators, women repressors".

The CRE has referred the article to the Metropolitan Police as a case of incitement to racial hatred, which is a criminal offence. The Muslim Council of Britain has taken the issue to the Press Complaints Commission.

Mr Peacock said: "As a general principle, media owners must supply to Ofcom details of complaints ... We will use this information to help us form a considered view." Among other issues on which Ofcom will focus, Mr Peacock said, were "policies relating to reporting techniques, journalism standards" and the level of involvement of proprietors in editorial decisions.

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