Tony Blair wanted the UK Daily Mail to retract an article about him.
Blair, the former British prime minister, complained to the UK print regulator the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the article was inaccurate.
The Mail‘s article, “Blair tried to wriggle out of MPs’ probe into IRA ‘comfort letters’ with phone call to Commons Speaker,” was published Jan. 9. It claimed Blair wanted to get out of “giving evidence” to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, IPSO reported on its website.
But Blair argued that in reality, “he had already given evidence on the issue to the Hallettt Review,” and had only asked why he should repeat his evidence and if he could reschedule the planned date because of other obligations.
The Mail reported:
“The former prime minister contacted John Bercow in an apparent attempt to wriggle out of giving evidence to MPs investigating a secret deal to offer Republican terror suspects an amnesty, it is claimed.
“He failed, but managed to limit his appearance to an hour, which families of IRA victims believe is a snub.”
As evidence, the Mail pointed to Blair’s November 2014 letter to the committee chair asking for a new date for his appearance before the committee, and the committee chair’s response the next month saying it was summoning him to appear because of his “continuing lack of response to the Committee’s invitation” which it found “extremely disrespectful.” The Mail also noted that it “clearly presented” other information as based on anonymous sources’ “claims,” and that the Mail printed Bercow’s response after asking for comment. The Mail also told IPSO it contacted others for comment and offered to publish a clarification but Blair wanted a full retraction, which the Mail didn’t agree with.
The article does carry a note at the bottom reading: “A previous version of this article suggested that Mr Blair had begged the Speaker to overturn an order to appear before the Committee and that the Speaker had ripped into Mr Blair. Mr Bercow has confirmed to us that he was not asked to overturn an ‘order’ and that rather than him ‘ripping into’ Mr Blair, the conversation they had was a cordial one.”
IPSO agreed with the Mail that the article didn’t mislead readers because the article’s claims were clearly attributed or distinguished as claims.
In response to the ruling, Blair complained “the truth counts for little in the eyes of IPSO.”
“Ipso failed to investigate the clear and unambiguous facts of our complaint and ignored evidence from the only people who know the truth of the matter, preferring to lend more weight to those twice or three times removed from the conversation,” Blair’s office said, according to the Guardian.
Hat Tip: The Drum