Labour complains to regulator over coverage of Corbyn cemetery visit

Party says several newspapers misrepresented 2014 event in Tunisia attended by its leader

British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who a lay a wreath at a ceremony in Tunisia in 2014, which his party says has been misrepresented by several newspapers.  Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who a lay a wreath at a ceremony in Tunisia in 2014, which his party says has been misrepresented by several newspapers. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

 

The British Labour Party has formally complained to the press regulator, Ipso, about the coverage by several newspapers of Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to lay a wreath at a cemetery in Tunisia.

In its complaint, the party said the Sun, the London Times, the Telegraph, the Daily Mail, the Express and Metro had misrepresented the event, which the Labour leader attended in 2014.

The press regulator has acknowledged the complaint and said it will consider taking the case further, raising the prospect that it could attempt to rule on the definitive chain of events surrounding Mr Corbyn’s visit to the cemetery.

It is highly unusual for a senior politician in Britian to turn to the press regulator over negative media coverage.

The story resurfaced last Saturday when the Daily Mail ran a front-page story that featured pictures of Mr Corbyn at the graveyard holding a wreath. The story had previously been reported – Mr Corbyn wrote about his trip at the time for the Morning Star newspaper – but the Daily Mail report featured pictures from the Facebook page of the Palestinian embassy in Tunisia.

Labour said subsequent reporting of the incident across the media has seriously misrepresented the event, misidentified those buried in the cemetery and underplayed the role of mainstream Palestinian leaders conducting the ceremony.

The complaint focuses on incidents where newspapers have specifically stated in news stories that the event was commemorating members of the Black September terror group or those who carried out the 1972 Munich massacre. Labour says there are no graves for such individuals and the event did not commemorate the Munich terrorists.

Netanyahu intervention

Labour acknowledges that the cemetery contains the graves of senior Palestine Liberation Organisation individuals SalahKhalaf and AtefBseiso, who were assassinated in the early 1990s and have been accused by Israel of having had links with Black September, something the PLO has always denied. However, it insists Mr Corbyn did not take part in laying wreaths on their specific graves.

The party initially struggled to clarify events surrounding Mr Corbyn’s visit. However, the party went on the attack when the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, personally intervened and criticised Mr Corbyn.

Newspapers named in the Ipso complaint have been informed. There will be an internal complaints process at each news outlet, which could potentially offer to publish corrections by way of mediation.

If any of the potential mediation offers are rejected by Labour, a full inquiry could take place, with Ipso potentially ruling on the accuracy of each contentious piece and whether it breaks its code on accuracy.

It is thought that several members of the public have complained to Ipso about the coverage, but their concerns cannot be investigated because the regulator does not accept complaints from third parties.

The regulator has been increasingly willing to make strong rulings on contentious issues, ordering front-page corrections in the Daily Mail and Mirror in recent months. – Guardian