Labour complains to press regulator over coverage of Jeremy Corbyn wreath-laying

Stories have misrepresented 2014 event at cemetery, the people buried there, and role of Palestinian leaders, party says

Jon Sharman
Friday 17 August 2018 08:51
Jeremy Corbyn refuses to apologise over Palestinian wreath laying

Labour has complained to the press regulator Ipso over coverage of Jeremy Corbyn’s laying of a wreath at a Tunisian cemetery.

The party said stories published in the Daily Express, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Metro , Times and Sun had misrepresented the 2014 event and who it was intended to commemorate.

Lodging a formal complaint with the press regulator is highly unusual for the leader of a political party.

Coverage in recent days has embroiled the Labour leader in a huge row and led to him being criticised by Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel.

It originally erupted after the Daily Mail published pictures of Mr Corbyn holding a wreath at a Tunis cemetery which it claimed were taken in front of a plaque honouring Palestinian leaders allegedly linked to Black September, the terrorist group behind the 1972 Munich massacre that killed 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team and one police officer.

Mr Corbyn has said he only laid a wreath at the cemetery in memory of victims of a 1985 Israeli air strike on a Palestinian base in Tunisia. He admitted being "present" while a wreath was laid in honour of those allegedly involved in Black September, including Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) intelligence chief Atef Bseiso, but said he did not "think" he had done so himself.

Labour has insisted that those who perpetrated the Munich atrocity were not buried in the cemetery, and there had been no ceremony for them. They said that while Israeli had accused Bseiso and other PLO leaders of involvement in the attack, this was disputed.

Ipso has now acknowledged Labour’s complaint and will consider taking it further.

Labour said the report had seriously misrepresented the event and misidentified those buried in the cemetery.

The party also complained that news reports have underplayed the role of mainstream Palestinian leaders in the 2014 ceremony.

When a complaint is received by the regulator, it first decides whether the claim falls within its purview. If so, and the source of the complaint has not yet contacted the original publisher, they are usually referred back to them, though in some cases the regulator may immediately begin its own investigation.

If Ipso does launch its own investigation, that process ordinarily involves mediation with the publication involved. But if that fails, the body will make its own ruling on whether the editors’ code of conduct has been breached.

In the case of Mr Corbyn that could eventually lead to Ipso having to rule on the accuracy of the reports, and, therefore, the sequence of events in Tunisia.

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