Byline Manager’s Telegraph IPSO Complaint Rejected

Jukes Nutter

Peter Jukes, the tin foil hatter behind conspiracy site Byline, has had a complaint to the press regulator about the Sunday Telegraph rejected. Jukes claimed Andrew Gilligan’s article exposing the murky truth about Byline was riddled with inaccuracies. His complaint to IPSO insisted it was wrong for the Telegraph to say he was Byline’s “manager”, wrong to say the site was funded by billionaires, wrong to say it had pushed the Westminster paedo ring conspiracy, wrong to say Jukes had been paid by Hacked Off, and wrong to say Byline worked with Hacked Off to promote the Whittingdale hooker story. Humiliatingly, IPSO rejected all of these complaints by Jukes. They ruled:

  • Calling Jukes Byline’s manager was not a breach of the editor’s code
  • It was “not misleading” to say the site had been funded by billionaires
  • “Not misleading” to say Byline had “promoted and defended” the paedo ring conspiracy, it had in fact published several articles supporting the theory
  • “Not inaccurate” to report Jukes had been paid by Hacked Off, he admitted he had received money from them
  • “Not misleading” to say Hacked Off and Byline worked to promote the Whitto story

In other words, IPSO say Jukes’ complaint was itself inaccurate and misleading. Embarrassing.

Corrections and Clarifications: Brooks Newmark Sting

Over a period of six months, Media Guardian campaigned to stitch up the Sunday Mirror, consistently falling short of the journalistic standards it sets for others. In an extraordinary series of factually incorrect articles, Roy Greenslade alleged that “at least seven other Tory MPs were also offered similar lures” in “a giant trawl“. It is completely untrue to suggest that we “offered similar lures” to a “giant” number of MPs. If we had only tweeted at Brooks Newmark he would have seen the sting coming a mile off. The account followed and tweeted at many MPs, male and female, as well as celebrities and news organisations. Prior to the investigation we had a specific tip-off about Newmark. We only ever had a private conversation with one MP – Newmark – and it was instigated by him. 

Media Guardian claimed on multiple occasions that “Wickham approached the Mail on Sunday’s political editor, Simon Walters”, and that “the MoS was concerned about the methodology employed to obtain the story, believing that it amounted to entrapment and also involved a fishing expedition”. We can now reveal this to be 100% untrue. Alex Wickham never spoke to anyone from the MoS about the story. A very brief conversation was had between Paul Staines and the MoS, where the detail was not discussed and it was agreed that the story would not work for the mid-market paper on the grounds of taste – Lady Rothermere’s taste. Despite the innuendo and factually incorrect reporting of Media Guardian, at no point was the methodology ever considered by the MoS as the prime stumbling block to running the story. Whatever may have been subsequently briefed.

Greenslade then wrote in the Standard that “the net had been spread wide in the hope of a juicy catch”, concluding “It is impossible to disentangle the public interest from the methodology. Given that we have a code of practice, we cannot argue that the end justifies the means”. Again, we had a specific tip-off about Newmark, and IPSO has found that the methods employed did not breach the code of practice.

Much of Media Guardian’s error-strewn reporting can be explained by their reliance on unfounded innuendos made by less popular parts of the Twitterphere. Peter Jukes claimedthere are many abuses being perpetrated here“, accusing us of  “fishing others”, and again suggesting that two other newspapers “knocked back the subterfuge”. Our position has now been vindicated by IPSO. 

Buzzfeed report named a number of MPs with whom our account had interacted, implying they were targeted: “If you’re a middle-aged Conservative MP and a young attractive researcher starts taking an interest in you on Twitter, then be careful”. These MPs were not targeted, Buzzfeed’s irresponsible report was factually incorrect and responsible for much of the bad reporting that followed.

Finally those doyens of press accuracy at Hacked Off also made a series of untrue allegations about the story. They suggested there was no “prima facie evidence that any of the six MPs approached were engaging in inappropriate conduct on the internet”. This is clearly incorrect and the IPSO ruling has found that to be the case. They concluded: “There appears to have been nothing to justify the use of subterfuge by the freelance reporter”. This was always disputed by us and the Sunday Mirror, because we were in possession of the facts and we have now been vindicated by IPSO.

See also: Not So Pronto IPSO

You can read the IPSO ruling in full here.

IPSO: Peter Jukes Claims Breached Accuracy Rules

Press regulator IPSO has slammed claims made by Peter Jukes, Twitter’s self-appointed upholder of press accuracy, finding they breached Clause 1 of the Code of Practice: Accuracy. An extract from his book “Beyond Contempt” published in the Press Gazette alleged that in June 2014, journalist Dennis Rice had “threatened to investigate” Jukes over a donation from Hacked Off. Jukes claimed Rice tweeted: “I’m now going to blog about [Jukes] & his family”. In fact, Rice’s tweet had been sent on 31 January 2014, six months earlier, in response to comments posted by Jukes which had referred to the Rice’s family. As today’s IPSO statement says“The article therefore contained the misleading impression that the complainant had mounted an unprovoked attack on the journalist and his family.”

IPSO’s findings are highly critical:

  • additional steps should have been taken to ensure the accuracy of the claim
  • the journalist [Jukes] was relying on second-hand information from a highly flexible medium in which misunderstandings can occur
  • the complainant should have been contacted to check the claims, or other steps should have been taken to verify the nature and timing of the tweet
  • The failure to do so breached Clause 1 (i) [The press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information]

Press Gazette has now apologised for publishing the Jukes extract. Rice tells MediaGuido in a statement:

“This is a judgement which underlines the importance of journalists checking facts – even ones who are sponsored by Hacked Off. Peter Jukes deserves credit for his crowd funding initiative, but no credit for his inability to check the date of a simple tweet.”

Jukes says:

“the letter from IPSO I have says it specifically doesn’t refer to my journalism by PG editorial process [sic]”

Perhaps it is worth re-reading this tweet of his from last June:

Indeed.



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Quote of the Day

Former public schoolboy Chuka Umunna told the  ‘Exit From Brexit Dinner’…

“Remainians, Remoaners, I don’t care what the label is, I’m proud. It’s fashionable to label everyone in this room as the liberal metropolitan elite . . . This caricature is promoted by a bunch of former public schoolboys!” 

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