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Watchdog clears weekly over ‘lazy reporting’ claims

IPSO_logo_newA weekly accused of “lazy” reporting in a story about a school child being referred to an anti-terror agency has been cleared of wrongdoing by the press watchdog.

Dr Kim Issroff complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Hampstead & Highgate Express breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in a report on the issue.

The Ham & High reported that the counter-extremism project Channel had intervened at Fleet Primary School after a child was deemed at risk of being drawn into Islamic extremism.

It added that Dr Issroff, who is the school’s chair of governors, had confirmed the referral to Channel at a public meeting attended by a journalist from the paper.

The Ham & High story further stated that it was the behaviour of the parents, rather than the child, which alerted the school and prompted the referral.

It also contained background information on the involvement of Channel with pupils from other schools in the area, and provided a general description of how the Channel process worked.

Dr Issroff said it was inaccurate to report that Channel had “intervened” in the case of the pupil, saying that after the case had been referred, the organisation had decided not to act further as the family was not considered at risk.

She also said that the school was located in Gospel Oak, not Hampstead, and the newspaper had only referred to the school being in Hampstead in order to sensationalise the story by reporting that such an incident had occurred in a “rich, liberal, middle-class” area.

Dr Issroff did not dispute that the referral at Fleet Primary School related to Islamic extremism. However, she said that the newspaper had provided no factual evidence to back up that assertion.

Without such evidence, she said, it was “lazy” of the publication to report that the referral of the pupil related to Islamic extremism.

The Ham & High responded that its journalist had attended the public meeting and had identified herself as such. She had then spoken to a number of different sources, the complainant included, prior to publication.

The newspaper said the word “intervened” had been meant in its general sense, that is, that Channel had become involved in the case. It said that having had conversations with people involved in the Channel process, it could be argued that an intervention begins when the Channel panel becomes involved in the case.

It denied that it had reported that the case related to Islamic extremism without any evidence because the journalist had spoken to a spokesman from Camden Council, who confirmed that the reference to “Islamic” extremism was not inaccurate.

The paper added it was not inaccurate to report that the school was in Hampstead because the school had a Hampstead address, a Hampstead postcode, and it bordered Hampstead Heath.

The complaint was not upheld, and the full adjudication can be read here.

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  • December 7, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    The school’s address on its own website reads:

    Fleet Primary School
    Fleet Road
    NW3 2QT

    I suggest either the complainant was lazy in not checking this or that the school “only referred to [ it ] being in Hampstead in order to” give off the impression of being “in a “rich, liberal, middle-class” area”

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