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Dispute over daily’s ‘hate group’ claim prompts complaint to IPSO

NewIPSOA conservative Christian legal organisation went to the press watchdog after a daily newspaper described it as a “hate group.”

ADF International complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation about a story run by The National, which reported that a group of MEPs had signed a letter urging the EU to investigate sums of money being spent by “right-wing American fundamentalist Christian groups” to lobby governments and support groups in Europe.

The Glasgow-based daily claimed nthe beneficiary of such funding was a Scottish ‘pro-life’ student group, and that “the anti-abortion group received funding and legal advice from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) International”, adding that the Southern Poverty Law Centre had described ADF International as a “hate group” which had “become one of the most influential groups informing the [Trump] administration’s attack on LGBT rights.”

Complaining under Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, ADF disputed the article’s characterisation of it as a “hate group” and claimed the paper had inaccurately reported the nature of the assistance it had provided to the student group.

It noted the contents of a press release it had issued which celebrated the success of a legal challenge to a decision which had denied the student group membership of its university Students’ Representative Council.

The release stated that this had occurred “with the help of ADF International”, but did not state the nature of the “help” referred to, and AFC claimed that The National had made the inaccurate assumption that this help was in the form of “funding and legal advice” – representing a failure to distinguish between comment, conjecture and fact.

The National also referred to the press release as the basis for the article’s claims, and noted that ADF had not specified the precise nature of the “help” the release said it had provided to Glasgow Students for Life.

It said that it would be happy to run a clarification or correction if ADF could explain this, and this offer was accepted by the group.

As a result, IPSO made no adjudication on breach of Code and the full resolution statement can be read here.