Victims of one of the UK’s most prominent pro-Israel newspapers are urging a press watchdog to launch a standards investigation into its practises.
Nine people who won libel or regulator complaints against The Jewish Chronicle in the past three years have written to the The Independent Press Standards Organisation asking it to take action to tackle what they allege are “systemic” issues.
The complainants co-signed a letter to IPSO chairman Lord Faulks saying that the paper’s “editorial standards are shockingly low and IPSO’s actions to date have made no difference.”
The letter, which was signed by Cllr Jo Bird, John Davies, Ibrahim Hewitt, Jenny Lennox, Kal Ross, Mike Sivier, Thomas Suarez, Marc Wadsworth and Audrey White, reads:
“We welcome IPSO’s agreement to consider Jo Bird’s proposal for a Standards Investigation into the Jewish Chronicle and we urge you to launch such an investigation without delay. With 28 recorded breaches of the Editors’ Code and four libel defeats in just three years, it is clear that the paper’s editorial standards are shockingly low and IPSO’s actions to date have made no difference.
“We have all either seen our complaints to IPSO about the Jewish Chronicle’s bad journalism upheld or secured admissions of libel from the paper. Unless standards there improve there will be more victims, while readers will continue to be misled.
“IPSO’s regulations say a Standards Investigation can take place where there is evidence of ‘serious and systemic breaches of the code’. The seriousness of the breaches by the Jewish Chronicle is attested to in IPSO’s own rulings while the sheer number of breaches and libel defeats – taking place at a small publication that appears only weekly – proves the problem is systemic.”
The Jewish Chronicle takes a strong pro-Israel editorial line and has been vocal in its condemnation of alleged antisemitism in the Labour Party under former leader Jeremy Corbyn. On the other hand, its critics accuse the newspaper of leading a witch-hunt against pro Palestinian voices within Labour.
Between July 2018 and July 2021 the newspaper paid out and apologised in four libel cases. In the same time period IPSO upheld, at least in part, nine complaints about the Jewish Chronicle relating to Clause 1 (accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.
The most serious penalties within IPSO’s powers include a fine of up to £1m, ordering the payment of reasonable costs for the investigation, and membership termination.
A spokesperson for the regulator told Press Gazette: “IPSO can undertake a standards investigation where it has serious concerns about the behaviour or actions of one of its regulated publishers.
“These concerns could include serious and systemic breaches of the Editors’ Code; where a publisher’s annual compliance statement raises significant concerns; or in exceptional circumstances, because of substantial legal issues or Editors’ Code compliance issues.
“IPSO actively monitors complaints, compliance with the Editors’ Code and the wider media landscape to ensure publishers uphold the highest possible standards.
“We aim to take action to address issues of concern in a proportionate way, ideally at an early stage. IPSO recently delivered training on Editors’ Code compliance to staff at the Jewish Chronicle, a service which is available to all regulated publishers.
“IPSO’s board makes any decision about whether or not to launch a standards investigation after careful consideration of all available evidence.”
The Jewish Chronicle has not commented on this story.