Jeremy Corbyn has been handed a major victory over Britain’s leading tabloid, after The Sun was ordered to publish a front page correction for a story which falsely claimed the Labour leader only agreed to be initiated as a Privy Councillor because his party stood to gain financially.
The judgement is unusual because critics have accused the recently created Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) of being too feeble to enforce its authority on powerful newspaper firms.
The complaint was made not by Mr Corbyn but a member of the public – a former journalist called Rosie Brocklehurst who worked in the Labour Party press office in the mid-1980s.
She objected to a story that published on the front page story of The Sun on 15 September, when there was speculation about whether the recently elected Labour leader would go through the arcane ritual of becoming a privy councillor.
Under the headline – “Labour hypocrite: Leftie who hates the Royals WILL kiss Queen’s hand to grab £6.2m” – the article said, correctly, that Mr Corbyn had decided to join the Privy Council. But it falsely alleged that his sole motive was to secure state funding for the Labour Party.
Under legislation passed 40 years ago, all opposition parties are entitled to what is known as ‘short money’ to pay the salaries of researchers and other aides. The money is allocated according to a fixed formula, which does not depend on whether the party leader is a privy councillor.
The leader of the opposition also receives an extra grant of more than £700,000 to cover office expenses.
When challenged over the 15 September article, The Sun argued that the grant to the leader’s office might be withheld if the leader refused to join the Privy Council – something which has never happened since state funding of opposition parties began. Ipso found the claim was not true. The IPSO Complaints Committee ruled that “it was significantly misleading to claim, as fact, that Labour’s access to Short money (either the £6.2m, or the £777,538.48) was conditional on Mr Corbyn’s joining the Privy Council; the two were not directly connected.”
Ipso was established 15 months ago, after the Leveson Inquiry into press standards, as a replacement for the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), which was controlled by the newspaper industry and was criticised for failing to deal with phone hacking.
“IPSO is an improvement on the PCC if only because they have courteous complaints officers whose aim is to try to mediate a satisfactory conclusion for both parties,” Rose Brocklehurst said. “In this case, the mediation failed because I became even more determined when the Sun were rude to me while I extended all courtesy to them in correspondence. The front page story was in my view completely spurious, nasty and wrong. My whole IPSO experience showed that an individual needs determination and courage to enter the complaints process.” IPSO is currently investigating more than 2,600 complaints about a separate Sun front page last month claiming that one in five British Muslims are sympathetic to jihadis.
The most ridiculous claims made about Jeremy Corbyn
The most ridiculous claims made about Jeremy Corbyn
1/11 He called Hezbollah and Hamas ‘friends’
True. In a speech made to the Stop the War Coalition in 2009, Mr Corbyn called representatives from both groups “friends” after inviting them to Parliament. He later told Channel 4 he wanted both groups, who have factions designated as international terror organisations, to be “part of the debate” for the Middle East peace process. “I use (the word ‘friends’) in a collective way, saying our friends are prepared to talk,” he added. “Does it mean I agree with Hamas and what it does? No. Does it mean I agree with Hezbollah and what they do? No.”
2/11 ‘Jeremy Corbyn thinks the death of Osama bin Laden was a tragedy’
Partly false. David Cameron used this as a line of attack at the Conservative Party conference but appears to have left out all context from Mr Corbyn’s original remarks. In an 2011 interview on Iranian television, the then-backbencher said the fact the al-Qaeda leader was not put on trial was the tragedy, continuing: “The World Trade Center was a tragedy, the attack on Afghanistan was a tragedy, the war in Iraq was a tragedy.”
3/11 He is ‘haunted’ by the legacy of his ‘evil’ great-great-grandfather
False. A Daily Express exposé revealed that the Labour leader’s ancestor, James Sargent, was the “despotic” master of a Victorian workhouse. Addressing the report at the Labour conference, Mr Corbyn said he had never heard of him before, adding: “I want to take this opportunity to apologise for not doing the decent thing and going back in time and having a chat with him about his appalling behaviour.”
4/11 Jeremy Corbyn raised a motion about ‘pigeon bombs’ in Parliament
This one is true. On 21 May 2004, Mr Corbyn raised an early day motion entitled “pigeon bombs”, proposing that the House register being “appalled but barely surprised” that MI5 reportedly proposed to load pigeons with explosives as a weapon. The motion continued: “The House… believes that humans represent the most obscene, perverted, cruel, uncivilised and lethal species ever to inhabit the planet and looks forward to the day when the inevitable asteroid slams into the earth and wipes them out thus giving nature the opportunity to start again.” It was not carried.
5/11 He rides a Communist bicycle
False. A report in The Times referred to Mr Corbyn, known for his cycling, riding a “Chairman Mao-style bicycle” earlier this year. “Less thorough journalists might have referred to it as just a bicycle, but no, so we have to conclude that whenever we see somebody on a bicycle from now on, there goes another supporter of Chairman Mao,” he later joked.
6/11 'Jeremy Corbyn will appoint a special minister for Jews'
False so far. The Sun report in December was allegedly based on a “rumour” passed to the paper by a Daily Express columnist who has written pieces critical of the Labour leader in the past. The minister did not materialise in his shadow cabinet.
7/11 ‘Jeremy Corbyn wishes Britain would abolish its Army’
False. Another gem from The Sun took comments made at a Hiroshima remembrance parade in August 2012 where Mr Corbyn supported Costa Rica’s move to abolish it armed forces. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every politician around the world…abolished the army and took pride in the fact that they don’t have an army,” he added. The caveat that “every politician” must take the step suggests Mr Corbyn does not support UK disarmament just yet.
8/11 Jeremy Corbyn stole sandwiches meant for veterans
False. The Guido Fawkes blog claimed that the Labour leader took sandwiches meant for veterans at at Battle of Britain memorial service in September but a photo later emerged showing him being handed one by Costa volunteers, who later confirmed they were given to all guests.
9/11 He missed the induction into the Queen’s privy council
True. After much speculation about Mr Corbyn’s republican views and willingness to bow to the monarch, his office confirmed that he did not attend the official induction to the privy council because of a prior engagement, but did not rule out joining the body.
10/11 Jeremy Corbyn refuses to sing the national anthem.
Partly true. The Labour leader was filmed standing in silence as God Save the Queen was sung at a Battle of Britain remembrance service but will reportedly sing it in future. Mr Corbyn was elusive on the issue in an interview, saying he would show memorials “respect in the proper way”, but sources said he would sing the anthem at future occasions.
11/11 He is a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Cheese
True. The group lists its purpose as the following: “To increase awareness of issues surrounding the dairy industry and focus on economic issues affecting the dairy industry and producers.”
Mr Corbyn reiterated his calls for a break-up of big media corporations on 21 December. “What I don’t get is the way in which the media, particularly the print media, can be routinely abusive and feel that that is perfectly OK,” he told the Huffington Post.
“I think there does need to be multiplicity of ownership. There does need to be a wide variety of it, and no crossover between broadcast and print media.”
The Daily Telegraph newspaper has been fined £30,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office after it sent hundreds of thousands of emails on the day of the general election urging readers to vote Conservative.
The ICO found that Telegraph Media Group broke direct marketing rules when it issued the letter from Chris Evans, Daily Telegraph editor, which was attached to the paper’s morning ebulletin.
The ICO found that none of the subscribers had given specific consent to receive that kind of marketing, a requirement under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.