The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) has cleared a column in The Sun newspaper which referred to “the Muslim problem”.
IPSO was tasked with looking into the article written by Trevor Kavanagh after Muslim and Jewish groups condemned The Sun’s former political editor’s op-ed about Muslim communities, which ended with the question about “The Muslim Problem”.
The ruling also said that while Kavanagh’s use of the phrase was “capable of causing serious offence” he had not discriminated against an individual.
The article sparked a fierce backlash when it was published, with more than 100 cross-party politicians signing an open letter to The Sun criticising the piece for using “Nazi-like language” in relation to the Muslim community in Britain.
Kavanagh, the former political editor at The Sun, subsequently apologised for causing offence in an online article, saying: “I can honestly say it never occurred to me that this could be interpreted as a play on ‘the Jewish problem’ and I will happily apologise to anyone who is thus offended.”
The Sun welcomed Ipso’s ruling. A spokesperson for the newspaper said: “This is a welcome reminder that the vitality of newspapers comes from the free exchange of ideas and opinions, perhaps particularly those which some might disagree with.”
Kavanagh is a board member of Ipso but plays no role in handling complaints, which are dealt with by a separate committee.
Miqdaad Versi, assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said the decision was “deeply disappointing, albeit not unexpected.”
He added: “Discrimination against Muslims, despite being rampant within sections of the media, appears not to be of concern to our press regulator or the editors’ code committee, despite protection for groups being a recommendation of the Leveson inquiry.”