IPSO rejects all complaints about Angela Rayner Mail article after more than 6000 objections
IPSO said many of the complaints found the content 'offensive or tasteless'
The Mail on Sunday caused widespread outrage with an article headlined, 'Stone the crows! Tories accuse Rayner of Basic Instinct ploy to distract Boris', which led to the Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, summoning the paper's editor, David Dillon, to a meeting, something he declined.
The article quoted anonymous Tory MPs and was branded "sexist and misogynistic".
The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) on Wednesday revealed that it has received more than 6,000 complaints about the story, but concluded: "We recognised that many complainants found the content of the article to be offensive or tasteless. However, this did not in itself mean that the article was in breach of the Code by reporting them."
IPSO said complainants made a "variety of claims that elements of the article were inaccurate" but under the Editors' Code it is not able to "take forward complaints about issues other than accuracy from people with no connection to an alleged breach of the Code".
In order to take forward complaints about issues other than accuracy from people with no connection to an alleged breach of the Code, IPSO said it would need to "consider the position of the party most closely involved".
"In order to decide whether the Editors’ Code was breached, IPSO would need to investigate and make findings about things which Ms Rayner is claimed to have said and done. Such an investigation would not be possible without her involvement, and because of this, we declined to consider complaints made under this Code clause," the decision reads.
However, IPSO said that does not prevent Rayner from making a complaint.
The watchdog went on to say that some complaints suggested the article breached its rules on discrimination because the article was "misogynistic and classist", but because their concerns were that it "discriminated against women in general, or was classist", rather than relating to an individual, it could not advance them.
"Clause 12 is designed to protect specific individuals mentioned by the press from discrimination based on their race, colour, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation or any physical or mental illness or disability. It does not apply to groups or categories of people," the decision reads.
Lastly, IPSO, noted many complainants were concerned that the article was "offensive", but the Editor's Code does not "address issues of taste or offence".
"It is designed to deal with any possible conflicts between the right to freedom of expression and the rights of individuals, such as their right to privacy," the watchdog explained.
"Newspapers and magazines are free to publish what they think is appropriate so long as the rights of individuals – which are protected under the Code – are not infringed.
"We recognised that many complainants found the content of the article to be offensive or tasteless. However, this did not in itself mean that the article was in breach of the Code by reporting them."
Read the full IPSO decision here.
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