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Watchdog backs news site over argument with politician

Darren MillarThe press watchdog has backed a news website after a politician claimed it was wrong to report something had been “revealed” about him.

Darren Millar, a Tory Member of the Senedd in Wales, went to the Independent Press Standards Organisation over a semantic argument with Nation.Cymru.

The site reported that Mr Millar, pictured, had “revealed” he was an Irish citizen during a debate in the Senedd, but he said he had previously shared this information in the public domain.

Complaining under Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, the Brexit-supporting Conservative claimed the word “revealed” was significant as it gave the impression he had kept his citizenship a secret.

He also said that readers had assumed from the story that he had gained his citizenship after the UK left the EU in order to protect the benefits associated with EU citizenship when, in fact, he had this citizenship from birth.

Denying a breach of Code, Nation.Cymru said that the word reveal can simply mean to “make known”, rather than solely referring to the disclosure of a secret.

The site said many people, including its editor did not know Mr Millar was an Irish citizen and it was made known, or “revealed”, to these people when he spoke about his Irish citizenship during a recent debate in the Senedd.

It noted that an opposition politician, whose tweet was used in the story, had been surprised by Mr Millar’s citizenship, which suggested that it was not well known.

The publication said, therefore, the use of the word “reveal” in the first article was entirely contextual depending on whether the reader was aware of his citizenship.

It also highlighted a separate occasion when Mr Millar had also used the word “revealed” in the Senedd to refer to information that would already have been known by some people, which it said demonstrated that the word could be understood this way.

IPSO accepted Nation.Cymru’s view that the term “revealed” does not have the sole meaning of information being made public for the first time, and could simply mean to inform, or make known, to those previously unaware of particular information.

In the context of the story the word “revealed” was not misleading in the way suggested by Mr Millar.

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