RESOURCE ALERT: An inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press

SOURCE: The Right Honourable Lord Justice Leveson

PREVIEW: The Leveson Report shows there is “clear evidence of misreporting on European issues”:

9.53 Articles relating to the European Union, and Britain’s role within it, accounted for a further category of story where parts of the press appeared to prioritise the title’s agenda over factual accuracy.

On Europe, Mr Campbell said:“Several of our national daily titles – The Sun, The Express, The Star, The Mail, The Telegraph in particular- are broadly anti-European. At various times, readers of these and other newspapers may have read that ’Europe’ or ’Brussels” or ’the EU superstate’ has banned, or is intending to ban kilts, curries, mushy peas, paper rounds, Caerphilly cheese, charity shops, bulldogs, bent sausages and cucumbers, the British Army, lollipop ladies, British loaves, British made lavatories, the passport crest, lorry drivers who wear glasses, and many more.”

“In addition, if the Eurosceptic press is to be believed, Britain is going to be forced to unite as a single country with France, Church schools are being forced to hire atheist teachers, Scotch whisky is being classified as an inflammable liquid, British soldiers must take orders in French, the price of chips is being raised by Brussels, Europe is insisting on one-size-fits-all condoms, new laws are being proposed on how to climb a ladder, it will be a criminal offence to criticise Europe, Number 10 must fly the European flag, and finally, Europe is brainwashing our children with pro-European propaganda! Of the UK press and the European institutions – I speak as something of a Eurosceptic by Blairite standards – it is clear who does more brainwashing.

Some of the examples, may appear trivial, comic even. But there is a serious point: that once some of our newspapers decide to campaign on a certain issue, they do so with scant regard for fact. These stories are written by reporters, rewritten by subs, and edited by editors who frankly must know them to be untrue. This goes beyond the fusion of news and comment, to the area of invention.”

9.54 Although Mr Campbell’s evidence may have been exaggerated for effect, there is certainly clear evidence of misreporting on European issues. Mr Campbell drew attention to a Daily Mail story claiming that “the EU” was going to ban grocers from selling eggs by the dozen, followed by a story that there had been a U-turn and the ban would no longer take place. The reality is that there had never been a ban proposed and the original story was based on a deliberate or careless misinterpretation of EU proposals.

TO ACCESS: online at http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/hc1213/hc07/0780/0780_ii.pdf

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