The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) has criticised one of its own directors, Trevor Kavanagh, for an error in a story he wrote in The Sun about Calais migrants last October. The watchdog has also rapped Kavanagh, the paper’s assistant editor, over the knuckles for failing to take care and criticised The Sun for being slow to correct the error online. The paper has been required to publish a statement outlining its error.

InFacts had complained to IPSO about the mistake. However, the watchdog’s ruling relates to a similar complaint by Miqdaad Versi, assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain. IPSO said Kavanagh played no part in the consideration of the complaint, which was examined by its complaints committee not its board.

The columnist originally wrote on 24 October that “Home Office figures show two out of three of those elbowing their way to the front of the queue from Calais are lying about their age.” In fact, the number was less than one in five.

Kavanagh’s error is just one example of inaccurate inflammatory stories about immigration that have appeared in the pro-Brexit press.

The Sun did publish a correction in print on 27 October. But it didn’t initially publish a correction online. It was because the paper failed to do this that InFacts complained to IPSO.

In addition to taking Kavanagh to task for his factual error, the watchdog’s board further criticised him for comments in the same column about Channel 4’s Fatima Manji. He said she had made a “fool of herself” after complaining to IPSO about an article by another Sun columnist, Kelvin MacKenzie. 

The watchdog’s statement read as follows: “IPSO is committed to ensuring that individuals who believe that they have been wronged by the press are able to seek proper redress without fear of retribution or victimisation. In this instance, public comments by an IPSO Board member brought the strength of this commitment into question. This should not have happened. The Board has received an apology from the Board member and an assurance that it will not happen again.”

by Hugo Dixon | 01.03.2017

Edited by Luke Lythgoe

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