In order to justify throwing the book at Craig Murray, the presiding judge notoriously dreamed up the novel principle that us mere bloggers must be held to a different legal standard than ‘proper’ journalists, on the dubious grounds that the latter are bound by codes such as the IPSO Editors’ Code of Practice – a voluntary set of rules that to the best of my knowledge has no legal underpinning whatsoever. If that’s the brave new world we’re now living in, it’s perhaps not too much to ask that the ‘proper’ journalists – even ones as controversial as David Leask – should be rigorously held to the code, Clause 1 of which states “the Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images…a significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and — where appropriate — an apology published”.
On Friday 10th September 2021, the Express website published an article by Dan Falvey entitled ‘SNP President drops huge hint Sturgeon could backtrack on plan for referendum in two years’. I have no idea whether it also appeared in the Express print edition, which you won’t be surprised to hear I don’t subscribe to – but that makes no difference because online articles also fall under the jurisdiction of both IPSO and the Editors’ Code. The article contained a blatantly inaccurate claim about Scottish independence polling, and yet four days later it still has not been corrected and no apology has been issued.
Falvey ludicrously ignored the genuine polling evidence that had been published on Thursday and Friday by Opinium and ComRes showing a very even split in public opinion – Opinium had Yes ahead by 51-49, while ComRes had No ahead by 52-48. Instead, he treated the propaganda poll commissioned by Scotland in Union, complete with its dodgy question about “leaving the United Kingdom”, as if it was the only one that mattered.
Now, to be clear, there’s no question that IPSO would let the Express get away with that part of the article – they would just mark it down as a form of “editorialising” that may have been selective with its facts, but was not strictly inaccurate. However, there’s one particular sentence in which the Express strayed into outright falsehood, and it’s this: “Polls have shown a drop in support for independence over the past six months, with a “No” vote consistently now in the lead”. The words ‘consistently’ and ‘now’ preclude the possibility of a Yes lead in any current poll – and yet the Opinium poll published just one day before the article had Yes ahead.
If you have the time and patience to take on the Express through the IPSO complaints process, here’s the online form you need.