Saturday, November 27, 2021

IPSO is a sham regulator which knowingly issues rulings that endorse lies as the truth - and THIS is the press regulation system that Lady Dorrian thinks justifies bloggers not enjoying equality before the law with journalists? Seriously?!

As mentioned in my previous post, Craig Murray is expected to finally be released from prison on Tuesday morning. One of Lady Dorrian's eyebrow-raising justifications for incarcerating him was a novel principle that mere bloggers should not enjoy equality before the law with mainstream journalists - and her excuse for that was the observation that mainstream journalism, unlike blogging, is "regulated". That means she was according a tremendous amount of significance to the jurisdiction of the press regulator IPSO - an entirely voluntary body which "enforces" an entirely voluntary code. For the new Dorrian Doctrine to have any credibility, then, and certainly for it to have sufficient credibility to even begin to justify imprisoning someone for writing internet articles, it would have to be assumed that the voluntary IPSO system is working exceptionally well. 

Just by complete chance, a truly dreadful example of Scottish political journalism came along recently to give us a golden opportunity to assess whether IPSO is regulating the press as effectively as Dorrian would have us believe - or indeed whether it is regulating the press in any real sense at all. On 20th September 2021, the Daily Record published an article entitled "Scottish independence support drops in new opinion poll on constitution". Both the headline and the main thrust of the article was a downright, deliberate lie. The opinion poll being referred to was a Redfield & Wilton survey showing Yes on 44% and No on 47%, which represented no change whatsoever from the firm's previous poll which also showed Yes on 44% and No on 47%. As a technical justification for the lie, presumably intended as a shield against any complaint to IPSO, the eighth paragraph of the Record article hinted (but didn't state directly) that the claim of a drop in support for independence was based on a comparison with an Opinium poll which had showed a slim Yes lead - but any such implied comparison was an utter nonsense and an insult to the intelligence of every reader. Not only was the Opinium poll conducted by a completely different firm with a completely different methodology (thus meaning that the numbers from the two polls cannot be directly compared), it wasn't even the most recent poll by any firm. Nor was it the second most recent poll by any firm. There were in fact two polls prior to the Redfield & Wilton poll that had fresher fieldwork than the Opinium poll - one conducted by Savanta ComRes and one conducted by Panelbase. The Record had essentially delved back into history with the intention of cherry-picking any poll they could find that would artificially produce the "drop in support for Yes" they wanted to report, but that inconveniently didn't actually exist. 

If it's journalistically acceptable for a newspaper to behave in that way, the reporting of polls becomes an anything goes funfair. Any poll can be reported as showing any trend the journalist wants. A pro-independence journalist, for example, could claim that absolutely any poll shows an increase in support for Yes, as long as they chuck in the disclaimer "oh and by the way I'm making the comparison with a System Three poll published in 1994". Fortunately, however, the IPSO code makes clear that sleights of hand of that sort are not a valid excuse - not only are outright inaccuracies forbidden, but so are "distortions". There was therefore no doubt whatsoever that the Record article was in breach of the code - it was a cynical attempt to hoodwink readers into falsely believing that independence support had fallen. 

But do IPSO actually enforce their own code? You probably won't faint with amazement at the revelation that they don't. A Scot Goes Pop reader lodged a complaint with IPSO, and it was summarily dismissed without even being considered by the Complaints Committee. What was truly staggering, though, was not so much the dismissal itself but the stated reasons for dismissal, which read like the judgement from a show trial in an authoritarian state. They brazenly turned reality on its head by accusing the complainant of doing the exact thing that the Record had done in the offending article - ie. of cherry-picking a poll for comparison.

"While we understand that you considered this inaccurate, as you had found another poll with identical figures preceding the one reported on by the article, where the article made clear on what basis it reported that “independence support drop[ped]”, we found no possible ground to investigate a possible breach of Clause 1."

"As you had found"?  "As you had FOUND"? What?!  What in the name of mercy do these people even think they are talking about?  The complainant hadn't "found" anything - he was simply making a statement of indisputable fact that the poll showed no change from the previous poll conducted by the same firm, which is the universally accepted way of accurately reporting opinion poll trends.  It was the Daily Record that had gone on a mission to "find" a poll that they could use to make the new poll show something it did not show.  What IPSO did was the rough equivalent of playing a piece of CCTV footage backwards to make it look like the victim of theft was the perpetrator.  "Cynical" doesn't even begin to cover it.

On the basis of IPSO's rules, the complainant had a right to appeal, which he naturally did, just on the off-chance that IPSO somehow didn't understand any of the above and had made a catastrophic mistake in good faith.  But no go.  The appeal was summarily rejected as well, and this time they didn't even bother offering reasons, beyond the generic and content-free "your complaint did not raise a possible breach of the Code".

Make no mistake - IPSO is a sham regulator conducting sham investigations. The intent is not to correct lies and to punish journalists who are guilty of them, but instead to buttress lies and glorify them, and effectively provide lying journalists with "truth-teller of outstanding integrity" certificates.  This is the sort of thing you'd expect to happen in a cultish one-party state, not in an allegedly mature western democracy.

Perhaps none of it would matter if we all just pointed and laughed at IPSO as a joke regulator run by the press for its own self-interested purposes.  But once you have a High Court judge praying in aid this nonsense as part of her reasoning for sending a writer to jail, we are into very sinister and dangerous territory.


  1. Genuinely shocking. Should have gone to the IPSO panel at a minimum. To say there's no possible case is obviously untrue. Makes you wonder how many other genuine complaints we never even hear about because they don't make it as far as the IPSO panel?

  2. Excellent, important post.

  3. ". The intent is not to correct lies and to punish journalists who are guilty of them, but instead to buttress lies and glorify them, and effectively provide lying journalists with "truth-teller of outstanding integrity" certificates."

    spot on

  4. I have read a lot of Craig Murray's blog. Frankly, he takes 'difficult' positions and usually persuades me that he is right. Apparently that is an inadequate defence for our judiciary.

    I am of the opinion that a goodly number of bloggers, yourself included, tell it as it is without fear or favour.

    The penalty that Craig Murray was sentenced to is a frankly ridiculous over egging of the pudding.

    My general support for our legal system has been substantially undermined by this. If it looks like political influence then there is a 50 / 50 chance that that's exactly what it was. Other explanations seem unlikely to me. But are available.

  5. That sounds about dead right on all counts Douglas.

  6. Sturgeon says campaigning for independence will resume next spring. I thought people said the 8 page supplement was it starting. Carrots for the donkeys.

    Sarah Smith, BBC ultra Britnat, says Sturgeon truly wants independence and people who doubt her are wrong but it just won't be happening any time soon due to the pandemic.

    When the Britnats are on Sturgeon's side does this give you confidence in the supposed leader of the independence movement?

  7. A question for the SNP/WGD numpties and the Alba/ISP parties.

    If there has been no Indyref2 before the next UKGE will it be made a vote for independence? A straight vote on independence - not another unused mandate for a referendum.

    Personally, I don't believe the SNP would ever do this but will Alba?

    1. Using a Westminster election would be a mistake in my view - it should be a Holyrood election.

    2. Why only Holyrood? I did say it should be Holyrood in May this year but that now means waiting another 5 years. What's wrong with a UKGE if you accept the concept of using an election for independence?

      If we can have council elections next year and the Holyrood elections already this year in a pandemic then why not a referendum. I am pretty sure other countries have had referendums during the pandemic.

      The bottom line is Sturgeon does not want independence. Before Covid the excuse was sec 30. That excuse has not gone away if Covid goes away.

      Sturgeon talks a good game about wanting independence but she never ever gets on the park to start the game.

    3. "What's wrong with a UKGE if you accept the concept of using an election for independence?"

      Because, as I've been pointing out for years, UK general elections are away fixtures in which the media coverage of independence will be totally swamped by coverage of London Tory v London Labour. The chances of achieving a majority of the popular vote are lower.

    4. James, I thought that might still be your reason. There is a counter argument that says that it is good that the Britnats will not be able to focus their media domination on anti independence propaganda as per 2014.

      If you assume that Scottish MPs represent Scotland in the UK Union then a majority elected on a crystal clear mandate for independence seems fine to me. If they do not represent Scotland then what are they?

    5. If a majority of people voted for independence in that election, but the Unionists got more seats, would you say that was Scotland endorsing the Union?

    6. Keaton, I have noticed your propensity for asking silly questions is increasing.

      Perhaps James will let this reply be published.

      No I would say that the election is a fraud.


    What do the two mad liars Neil Oliver and Scottish Skier have in common apart from being mad and lying?

    Answer: they both claim to know the mind of and speak for the people of Scotland. Oh and they are both working against Scottish independence. In very different ways but same end game.

  9. " IPSO is a sham regulator conducting sham investigations." Pretty much par for the course for UK regulators across the board. Anyone know any that are worthy of the term regulator. Is there at least one?

    Let's hope that Craig Murray is in decent health when he gets his freedom back tomorrow. It would have been hard to imagine a judge using IPSO to justify jailing someone for telling the truth in Scotland only a few years ago. That is Sturgeons Scotland.

    Excellent article on IPSO.


    the WGD/SNP numpties ignore in Sturgeons speech - "COVID PERMITTING."

    The numpties specialise in ignoring words/facts/events/evidence they don't like.

    Other words previously spoken by Sturgeon are that she will not carry out an illegal referendum. Has she now said she will carry out an illegal referendum if it is declared to be illegal by the British state - no. Again conveniently ignored by the numpties.

    As long as the numpties have their carrot of a referendum dangling in front of them they are happy - hee haw munch munch. The rest of us think it is a farce.

  11. Good to see Craig Murray looking and sounding in good spirits and good health as he departed Saughton prison today. He was even sporting a new look - the Gandalf. The only thing missing was the white stallion.

    The European Court of Human Rights awaits.