UK newspaper the Independent apologized to a Saudi prince after its columnist Robert Fisk based a piece on a fake report, Journalism.co.uk reported.
Fisk had cited a fake “order” from Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud calling for “his security forces to show no mercy and to use live rounds on unarmed demonstrators.” Al-Saud is the interior minister of Saudi Arabia.
Fisk reported on that “order” in this April 15 column, stating that the order is “worthy of investigation by the International Criminal Court at the Hague.” The column now has appended a “legal note” that reads:
“Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud has responded to the allegations concerning him contained in this article and we have published a clarification, which incorporates his comments.” See also 4 August 2011 article.”
The Independent’s apology seems to defend Fisk by noting that his story “was published in good faith” despite the “order” being a phony. The apology states
“Although the essay was published in good faith, we now accept that the ‘order’ in question is in fact a forgery, and that Prince Nayef did not issue any such order. We apologise sincerely to Prince Nayef for the damage and embarrassment which our reporting of it has caused him.”
According to the BBC, the phony “order’ had “numerous features” that indicated it wasn’t from al-Saud.
The BBC noted that al-Saud also received “undisclosed damages” and added that the Independent didn’t contact Nayet regarding the claims pre-publication. According to the BBC, al-Saud stated the money will be donated to charity.
iMediaEthics wrote in June when it was reported that Bahrain had begun “legal procedures” against the Independent for the newspaper’s portrayal of Bahrain. Bahrain specifically called out Robert Fisk’s reporting on Bahrain, including a June 14 opinion article.
iMediaEthics has written to the Independent and will update with any response.