It wasn’t discriminatory for the Sun‘s Rod Liddle to ask if black politician Kate Osamor, a Parliament member, got her gig because of her race, the UK press regulator the Independent Press Standards Organisation ruled.
The Sun declined to comment to iMediaEthics on the ruling; iMediaEthics has contacted Osamor’s office.
Liddle’s December 2018 column, “Labour family’s shame,” addressed Osamor’s son working for her as a researcher after a drug conviction. “And do you suppose that either [the MP or her mother] would be in the positions they are now were it not for the colour of their skin?” Liddle asked. Osamor’s mother was also a politician.
Osamor’s political party, the Labour Party, complained about the article, saying it was inaccurate and discriminatory by suggesting Osamor got her position because of her race. The Sun countered, saying the column was Liddle’s opinion suggesting Osamor was in office from “some form of positive discrimination.”
“As the basis for this view, the columnist had explained that the Labour MP had apparently misled the public in relation to the facts of her son’s drug conviction; had continued to employ her son following his conviction; and had acted inappropriately in response to contacts from journalists in relation to these matters,” IPSO reported. “The publication said that it was in the context of these actions that the columnist had questioned how the MP had reached her position, and questioned whether it had been due to the colour of her skin. This was not a pejorative or prejudicial reference to Mr Osamor’s race: the columnist was criticising the MP based on her behaviour, not because of her race, and had only referenced her race to question how she achieved her position in spite of her professional failings. “
In a late April ruling, IPSO found Liddle criticized Osamor’s behavior but didn’t say it was because of her race. “Questioning whether she had benefitted from her race in reaching her position did not constitute a pejorative or prejudicial reference,” IPSO found.
“The columnist had speculated that the MP’s race may have been a factor in her reaching the position she held,” IPSO continued. “The MP’s race was, by definition, relevant to this discussion. As noted above, Clause 12 does not seek to prohibit discussion as to whether an individual may benefit from his or her race. The reference to the MP’s race was, therefore, not irrelevant to the discussion, and there was no breach of Clause 12,” which focuses on discrimination.
Hat Tip: Press Gazette