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IPSO rejects call to investigate weekly’s coverage of far-right party

Anne-Marie Waters.png.galleryThe press watchdog has rejected a claim that it should investigate a weekly newspaper’s coverage of a far-right political party.

Ian Baxter, from Swindon, went to the Independent Press Standards Organisation over three articles published by the News Shopper, which covers South-East London and areas of North Kent.

The stories in question related to hustings held before the Lewisham East by-election, in which Anne Marie Waters, pictured, leader of the far-right For Britain party, was standing.

Mr Baxter complained under Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 3 (Harassment) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

In a story about IPSO’s decision not to pursue the complaint, News Shopper web editor Simon Bull wrote: “[Mr Baxter] objected to us referring to For Britain as ‘minor’ and to us not mentioning more people who were in favour of anti-Islam candidate Anne Marie Waters speaking at a hustings ahead of the Lewisham East by-election.

“Apparently we were in breach of the Editors’ Code over the clauses related to accuracy and, even more bizarrely, harassment.”

Responding to Mr Baxter, IPSO wrote: “You said that these articles were inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) because they described Anne Marie Waters as representing ‘controversial minor political party For Britain’. You said that the use of the term ‘minor’ was subjective and misleading.

“Publications are entitled to make characterisations about people and groups, and where For Britain is not a party with an established presence in Parliament or any local authority, this was not misleading. There was no possible breach of Clause 1 on this point.

“You also said that the articles breached Clause 3 (Harassment) because they referred to individuals who had supported the campaign to no-platform Ms Waters, but not to individuals who supported her presence at the hustings. This concern appeared to be best addressed under Clause 1 (Accuracy): you were not suggesting that the publications have harassed Ms Waters in the course of producing the articles.

“Publications have the right to choose which pieces of information they publish, as long as this does not lead to a breach of the Code. In this case, the fact that the article did not mention the opinions of certain individuals in support of Ms Waters did not make the article inaccurate or misleading, so there was no possible breach of Clause 1.”