Saturday, June 23, 2012

Letter To UK Press Complaints Commission

UPDATE 6:  Despite two years of constant UK media smears against WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, the UK Press Complaints Commission has refused to examine my complaint. It falsely suggests that I was complaining about "an article in The Guardian" even though I made it very clear from the beginning that my complaint related to a long series of abusive articles from multiple UK sources (but especially The Guardian).

Fellow complainant, Steve Perry, received an identical response on the same day, as the PCC had lumped our separate complaints together.

1st August 2012:

Commission’s decision in the case of
Lord/Perry v The Guardian

The complainants objected to the newspaper’s publication of an article that was, in their view, an assault on the character of the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

In this instance, the complainants’ concerns related most closely to the terms of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of Editors’ Code of Practice. Under the terms of this Clause, newspapers must take care not to publish inaccurate information, and must correct a significantly inaccurate or misleading statement promptly, and with due prominence.

The Commission acknowledged the complainant’s concerns, both about the article under complaint, and in relation to the newspaper’s coverage more generally; however, Mr Julian Assange is aware of the Commission’s services, and had not submitted a complaint about this particular article. The absence of a complaint from Mr Assange imposed practical constraints on the Commission pursuing this matter further; in particular, any remedial action that could be required of the newspaper in order to satisfy its obligations under the Code – for example, by the publication of an apology – would need to be approved before publication by Mr Assange, and in circumstances where he had not submitted a complaint, this clearly would not be possible. As such, the Commission could not comment on the complaint further.

Reference no.122705/122706
*

The PCC decision was accompanied by the following email:

Dear Mr Lord

Further to our previous correspondence, the Commission has now considered your complaint about an article in The Guardian. It has decided that it is not possible, in the circumstances, to examine your complaint further under the Editors’ Code of Practice.

As we have made clear previously, the Commission generally deals only with complaints from those directly involved. On this occasion, it did not consider that it could waive its rules and investigate your third party complaint further. Its decision on this matter is below.

Although the Commission has come to this view, it has asked me to send a copy of your letter to the editor so that the publication is aware of your concerns.

If you are dissatisfied with the way in which your complaint has been handled you should write within one month to the Independent Reviewer, whose details can be found in our How to Complain leaflet or on the PCC website at the following link:


We are grateful to you for giving us the opportunity to consider your concerns.

Yours sincerely

Sean Goldstein
Sean.Goldstein@pcc.org.uk

*

Obviously this is a waste of time, but it does at least publicly illustrate that the UK Press Complaints Commission is a waste of taxpayer funds. I shall of course reply forthwith...



UPDATE 5: 1st August 2012:

Dear Mr Lord

Thank you for your email.

I can confirm that your complaint was sent to the Commission for a formal ruling under the Editors’ Code on 20 July, 2012. It is my expectation that the Commission’s decision will be with you before the end of the week.

You are welcome to contact me in the meantime, if you have any further questions.

Regards

Sean Goldstein
Complaints Officer

Press Complaints Commission
Halton House
20/23 Holborn
London EC1N 2JD

Tel: 020 7831 0022
Website: www.pcc.org.uk

UPDATE 4: 1st August 2012:


Sir or Madam,

It has been almost a month since Simon Yip advised me that the Press Commission was considering my complaint about the UK media's treatment of Julian Assange. I am still awaiting a further response.

Meanwhile, the media continues to publish hostile stories smearing and ridiculing Mr Assange. For example, the latest from The Guardian: http://t.co/Bk2SZRs7

Lest you forget, Mr Assange remains holed up in the Ecaudorian Embassy in London, in far from ideal conditions.

Please be aware that the world is watching these events unfold. We see how the UK media is complicit in pursuing government agendas, and we expect watchdog agencies like yourselves to take an active role if British democracy is supposed to remain respected around the globe.

Regards,

Gary Lord
Australia

UPDATE 3: An encouraging response at last! July 3, 2012:

Dear Mr Lord

Thank you for your email.

We will now ask the Commission whether it wishes to take your complaint forward as an independent complaint. We will write to you further about this matter as soon as possible.

In the meantime, should you have any queries or require any further advice, please do not hesitate to contact us on 020 7831 0022.

Yours sincerely


Simon Yip
Complaints Coordinator

Press Complaints Commission
Halton House
20/23 Holborn
London EC1N 2JD

Tel: 020 7831 0022
Website: www.pcc.org.uk

UPDATE 2: I just sent the following reply. June 28 2012:

Simon,

I am surprised at your reply for a number of reasons.

Firstly, Julian Assange has already submitted a lengthy history of abuse to the Leveson inquiry. Is the UK Press Complaints Commission not aware of this submission and the contents thereof?

My own complaint was merely scratching the surface of this appalling, prolonged, public attack on a man who has not even been charged with ANYTHING despite 560 days under house arrest. I would ask you to take a close look at this recent article from Medialens, which details many more direct personal smears from UK journalists, in both a personal and professional capacity: http://t.co/IdW4w8fR

Secondly, you might be aware that Mr Assange is currently hold up in the Embassy of Ecuador, seeking asylum. Under the circumstances, it's quite bizarre that you expect him to post a complaint on his own behalf. Furthermore, you might have noticed that the abuse has NOT been directed just at Mr Assange, but also others working for WikiLeaks, and also at supporters like myself (The Guardian's Nick Cohen said we are all paranoid). Under the circumstances I don't see why you are not able to open a formal complaint process based on the information I have provided.

The eyes of the world are on both Mr Assange and the British media at the moment, and surely it is your job to ensure that decent standards are applied.

Kind regards,

Gary Lord
Twitter: @Jaraparilla 

UPDATE 1: I just got the following response to my letter of complaint (below).

Dear Mr Lord

Thank you for your email.

The concerns you have raised relate directly to Mr Julian Assange, the subject of the story. Given the nature of the story, it appears that it would be difficult for the Commission to investigate or understand this matter fully without his involvement. In addition, the outcome of a Commission investigation (whether correction, apology or adjudication, for example) would need his approval. In such circumstances, we would generally require a complaint from Mr Julian Assange or his representative, in order to take the matter forward.

I should make clear that Mr Assange is fully aware of our services. Should Mr Assange wish to complain about any coverage he will be able to do so.

It appears that we would have difficulty in pursuing this matter. However, if you believe that there are exceptional public interest reasons for the Commission to proceed with an independent complaint under the circumstances, we would be grateful to hear from you in the next ten days. 

Once we have heard from you, the Commission will be asked whether it wishes to take the complaint forward. If you would like to discuss your case before replying please do contact us.  If we hear no more from you we will close our file on the matter.

If, at the end of the process, you are dissatisfied with the manner in which your complaint has been handled, you should write within one month to the Independent Reviewer who will investigate the matter and report any findings and recommendations to the Commission. For further details please use the following link: http://www.pcc.org.uk/about/whoswho/independentreview.html

A copy of the Code of Practice which all newspapers and magazines who subscribe adhere to, can be accessed using this web link: http://www.pcc.org.uk/cop/practice.html

Do not hesitate to contact us if you need further advice.  When you write to us, please quote our reference number on this email.

Yours sincerely

Simon Yip
Complaints Coordinator

Press Complaints Commission
Halton House
20/23 Holborn
London EC1N 2JD

Tel: 020 7831 0022
Website: www.pcc.org.uk
I will compile a full response as soon as I can shake off this sense of bewildered anger and the urge to be overwhelmingly sarcastic...

ORIGINAL LETTER FOLLOWS:

UK Press Complaints Commission
complaints@pcc.org.uk
Tel: 02078310022

Dear Sir or Madam,

I would like to register my disgust with The Guardian newspaper's latest assault on the good character of Julian Assange:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/jun/21/julian-assange-escape-routes-ecuador-embassy?CMP=twt_gu

This is only the latest in a long stream of nasty, vindictive personal attacks on Mr Assange from Guardian "journalists". I refer you to Mr Assange's submission to the Leveson inquiry for more evidence.

I also cite my own experiences defending Assange from "Guardianistas", as documented at the following links:

http://jaraparilla.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/how-to-get-blocked-by-los-del-guardian.html

http://jaraparilla.blogspot.com.au/2011/11/guardians-vendetta-against-julian.html

As a time when the world is watching the UK media with close attention, and when Julian Assange is waging an historic battle for freedom of speech, such pithy yellow journalism should be urgently confronted if the UK Press Complaints Commission wishes to maintain credibility and continue it's important work.

Sincerely,

Gary Lord
aka @Jaraparilla on Twitter
Australia

5 comments:

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