UK newspaper the Ham & High (also known as the Hampstead & Highgate Express) apologized after accusing a community organizer of calling a property developer “Shylock.” Shylock is the name of a Jewish moneylender in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.
Herminio Martinez, the community organizer, complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation over the Ham & High‘s Feb. 11 front-page article reporting “two property developers were the subject of anti-Semitic abuse after a ‘fracas broke out in the aftermath of a key planning decision,'” according to IPSO. “It said that cries of ‘you’re anti-Semitic’ and ‘you’re a fascist’ could be heard in the lobby of Haringey civic centre after the developers’ scheme was approved by the council.”
The Ham & High’s Laura Adams pointed iMediaEthics to the paper’s comments in the IPSO ruling.
The article further claimed Martinez told the newspaper he called a developer “Shylock.” But, according to IPSO, Martinez said he used the word “Shylock” last year in a conversation with one of the developers, who he didn’t know was Jewish but “in the context of comparing the developer to bankers, investors and developers down through the ages who had destroyed society,” not in an anti-Semitic way.
See below a close-up of the apology.
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The newspaper said its journalist thought the “Shylock” comment had been made that day but didn’t have notes to back up her reporting. Martinez said his only interaction with the Ham & High‘s reporter was when the journalist asked him how to spell his first name. Martinez told IPSO he told the reporter he didn’t want to be in the article or interviewed. The reporter didn’t have notes to back up her conversation with Martinez.
The Ham & High deleted its online article and published a front-page apology. Below see the apology in print.