The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) has upheld a complaint by Campaign Against Antisemitism over the publication by The Telegraph of a claim that the Rothschild family controlled all of the central banks in all of the countries in the world except for Cuba, Iran and North Korea. The antisemitic myth is frequently used by antisemites to claim that any acts against those nations are in fact secret machinations by world Jewry to overthrow the last strongholds of resistance to Jewish dominance.
Whilst we welcome IPSO’s decision to uphold our complaint, we consider the remedy proposed to be toothless, leaving us concerned that ISPO is unfit for purpose.
We complained directly to The Telegraph after the newspaper’s Travel Editor, Oliver Smith, wrote and published a list of the only three countries in the world which “don’t have a central bank owned or controlled by the Rothschild family”, listing Cuba, North Korea and Iran.
We did not anticipate complaining to IPSO at all, merely seeking action by the newspaper itself to explain how Mr Smith had come to publish the claim, as it can only be found on extreme antisemitic website. Whilst Mr Smith apologised to us in a private e-mail, claiming that he is not antisemitic and picked up the antisemitic myth from a website which looked innocuous, he ignored requests to name the website when it was pointed out that no innocent-looking websites publish such antisemitic material, the only ones that do being specialist antisemitic forums and blogs.
When Campaign Against Antisemitism pushed the point, The Telegraph’s Head of Compliance, Jess McAree, stepped in and said that if we pursued our complaint they would not publish an article already cleared for publication by the newspaper’s compliance team, insisting that the apparent threat was merely the implementation of the newspaper’s policies. In the end we refused to back down and published the article on our own website.
Due to the handling of the matter by Mr Smith and Mr McAree, we complained to IPSO. Whilst IPSO has now ruled in Campaign Against Antisemitism’s favour, the outcome of its laborious complaints process however is that The Telegraph has published a well-buried apology on its website only, and that is all.
We are extremely disappointed in IPSO.
Firstly, IPSO ruled that the complaint should be investigated under the Editorial Code as a matter of “accuracy” only and not “discrimination”, which is beyond perverse. Of course it is not accurate to say that the Rothschild family owns almost all of the central banks of the world’s nations, but to ignore the fact that a variation of that very myth was popularised by none other than Nazi Germany is an abominable dereliction of duty for a regulator.
Secondly, and no less perversely, Campaign Against Antisemitism’s proposed remedies were rejected. We suggested that as a minimum The Telegraph should agree to publish an article by a suitable academic on the provenance of such antisemitic conspiracy myths, and that it should investigate how a claim found only on vehemently antisemitic websites came to be treated as reliable source material not by a rookie journalist but by an editor.
Mr Smith, Mr McAree and The Telegraph have been let off lightly by a toothless regulator that is unfit for purpose. It is hard to see how the Jewish community can have any faith in IPSO.