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Daily entitled to publish climate change denier’s letter, IPSO rules

A regional daily was entitled to publish a letter submitted by a climate change denier, the press watchdog has ruled.

The letter, which described climate change as a “myth”, appeared on the online letters page of the Wolverhampton Express & Star’s website.

Another reader, Vinod Aithal, took exception to the letter and pursued a complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation about it.

The Express & Star offered him a right of reply to the letter in a bid to resolve the issue, but neither party was able to agree on its wording.


It was therefore passed to IPSO for adjudication, with the watchdog ruling in the newspaper’s favour.

Complaining under Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, Mr Aithal said it was inaccurate to report that climate change was a “myth” put forward by businesses and governments for financial gain or a “natural” phenomenon.

In response, the Express & Star said the piece was clearly identifiable as a reader’s letter and therefore clearly distinguished as the reader’s personal comment and opinion, rather than a factual news piece.

The paper said it sought to publish a range of views on current and contentious issues, including climate change, and offered Mr Aithal the right to reply via a letter to the Editor, to be published both online and in print.

The Express & Star did not accept the exact wording of Mr Aithal’s letter and offered to publish an edited version of the letter, but the parties were unable to agree on a precise form of words.

IPSO found the claims about climate change in the letter were clearly distinguished as being the author’s minority opinion and at odds with the scientific consensus, but welcomed the steps taken by the paper to resolve the matter.

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