It was in the public interest and newsworthy for the UK Daily Mirror to publish a secretly filmed tape as part of an undercover report, UK print regulator the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) ruled.
The Mirror‘s April 16 article, by a freelancer, questioned Magnus Nielson, a then-potential candidate for Parliament, and his views on Islam.
Nielson had spoken at a Mothers against Radical Islam and Sharia rally and then had a conversation in a pub with the undercover reporter, who used a fake name, didn’t say he was a reporter, and taped the conversation without his knowledge.
Nielson complained to IPSO about the undercover reporting, the secret video and the article, which he called a “smear”and mis-representation of his comments. Nielson also complained readers would think he was a member of the English Defence League and that the organization holding the rally was linked to the EDL.
The Mirror stood by its reporting as “both necessary and justified on this occasion,” according to IPSO, pointing out that since Nielson was up for election, his comments were newsworthy.
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IPSO agreed, saying that “During the campaign period for a General Election it is of great importance that the public are not misled by candidates running for public office.” IPSO pointed out that the rally itself was public, and decided that the undercover interview was “reasonable” and “in the public interest,” given Nielson’s changing views on Islam.
Regarding the EDL links, the Mirror argued that the Mothers against Radical Islam and Sharia group did have “links with far-right groups” which is “at odds” with Nielson’s political party, UKIP. IPSO agreed it was fair to say so because the rally hosts invited EDL members
According to IPSO, the Mirror said it wanted to find out more about Nielson’s views after seeing his now-deleted Facebook posts critical of Islam, calling it “organised crime under religious camouflage” and so forth in the past. As such, the Mirror argued it was reporting on Nielson’s changed views toward Islam. The Mirror “said that this view demonstrated that he now believed that there could be moderate Muslims and lawful practice of Islam, and showed moderation of his earlier views,” IPSO reported.
The Mirror declined to comment to iMediaEthics about the ruling. Our email to Nielson bounced back.