Email to IPSC from the Office of the Press Ombudsman, 24‐10‐2012

Dear Mr O’Quigley, Further to your recent correspondence with this Office regarding the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s complaint about a number of articles published in The Irish Times in May 2012, I have now considered this complaint and attach a copy of my decision [see below]. If you would like a hard copy of this decision, please let me know. Either party can appeal this decision. Any appeal must be made to the Press Council of Ireland, 1, 2 & 3 Westmoreland Street, Dublin 2; fax: 01‐6740046; email: chairman [at] presscouncil.ie, within ten working days of the date of my decision (i.e. by close of business on Thursday, 8 November). Appeals will be considered under one or more of the following grounds:
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that there has been an error in procedure; that significant new information is available that could not have been or was not made available to the Press Ombudsman before he made his decision; that there has been an error in the Press Ombudsman’s application of the Principles of the Code of Practice.

Appellants should clarify which of these grounds are relevant to their appeal and should provide appropriate evidence and arguments to support the appeal. Mere disagreement with my decision is not a sufficient ground for appeal. All information in relation to my decision must remain confidential until after the expiration of the period within which an appeal must be lodged, or after the determination of any such appeal. Yours sincerely Professor John Horgan Press Ombudsman Sent on behalf of the above by: Miriam Laffan PA/Administrator Office of the Press Ombudsman and Press Council of Ireland 1, 2 & 3 Westmoreland Street Dublin 2

IRELAND PALESTINE SOLIDARITY CAMPAIGN AND THE IRISH TIMES

The Press Ombudsman has decided that The Irish Times made an offer of sufficient remedial action to resolve a large number of complaints made by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) under Principles 1 (Truth and Accuracy) and Principle 2 (Distinguishing Fact and Comment) of the Code of Practice for Newspapers and Magazines about nine articles published in May 2012. A number of other complaints about the articles under Principles 3 (Fairness and Honesty) and Principle 4 (Respect for Rights) were not upheld. The complaints by the IPSC arose from articles that centred around the cancellation of a visit to Israel by Dervish, a musical group. The reasons for the cancellation of the group’s projected visit, the timing and significance of the events associated with this cancellation, both before and after it took place, and the accuracy of the newspaper’s reports of, and references by third parties to, these events were all the subject of the complaints about the articles and involved, prior to and subsequent to publication, substantial disagreement and argument between the parties. Such disagreements and arguments - including disputes about the exercise of editorial discretion - are an inevitable accompaniment of highly-charged newspaper-based debates, in the course of which the truthfulness of statements by third parties which are accurately reported and attributed by the newspaper also frequently becomes an issue. The IPSC demanded a front-page retraction - the essential details of which it specified at some length – of the matters it claimed were in breach of the Code of Practice, and, in addition, an admission by the newspaper that, because of these alleged breaches, it was not worthy of the trust of its readers. The Irish Times acknowledged, and offered to correct, a number of statements which it accepted had been inaccurate. It also invited the IPSC to attend a private meeting with two senior editors, including its Foreign Editor, at which they could discuss their concerns. These offers were turned down by the complainants. In the view of the Press Ombudsman, the majority of the matters raised by the complainants were disagreements about matters of speculation or of interpretation, disagreements about the meaning of individual words, irreconcilable conflicts of evidence, challenges to the

truthfulness of third-party statements that were recorded accurately and published in good faith by the newspaper, or matters that were addressed in individual contributions – notably in an article on behalf of the IPSC published as part of the ongoing debate. In the circumstances, the newspaper’s offer to correct admitted errors, and to facilitate a meeting with senior staff on the issues in dispute, was sufficient remedial action to resolve the alleged breaches of the Code under Principles 1 and 2. The complaints under Principle 3 were not upheld because there was no evidence that the newspaper had obtained or published the material complained of by misrepresentation, harassment or subterfuge, as would be required to support a complaint under this Principle. The complaints under Principle 4 were not upheld because there was insufficient evidence that the newspaper had knowingly published matter based on malicious misrepresentation or unfounded accusations, as would be required to support a complaint under this Principle, or that it had not taken reasonable care in checking the numerous facts and allegations involved prior to publication.

24 October 2012