A UK press regulator has rebuked The Sun over the tabloid’s front-page story in March that bore the headline ‘Queen Backs Brexit’. But the paper said it “stood by all of it.”
The Independent Press Standards Organisation ruled that the newspaper “significantly misled” its readers with the controversial front-page headline on March 9 that prompted the Queen to make her first ever complaint to a press regulator. Today, the paper ran a page-two story outlining Ipso’s findings, write Katie Martin and Henry Mance.
But the newspaper said it stood by it all, writing in an editorial:
It seemed fair enough to us. Tabloid newspapers like The Sun have always made eye-catching assertions in headlines. It is a standard device.
But Ipso decided it wasn’t right.
The idea she keeps all her thoughts to herself is nonsense. Last week she was caught on video calling Chinese officials “very rude”.
Britain’s best-selling newspaper, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, had claimed in March that the monarch had criticised the EU at a lunch with government ministers. Buckingham Palace responded furiously.
Ipso said the headline “was significantly misleading”. The headline also “contained a serious and unsupported allegation that the Queen had fundamentally breached her constitutional obligations in the context of a vitally important national debate.”
After publication, the Sun’s account had been rejected by Nick Clegg, the former deputy prime minister, who was present at the lunch, although two other attendees – justice minister Michael Gove and Tory MP Cheryl Gillan – declined comment.
Ipso did not rule on whether the text of the article was accurate. But it said that in any case “it did not follow from the comments the article reported that the Queen wanted the UK to leave the EU as a result of the referendum: that suggestion was conjecture and the Committee noted that none of those quoted in the story were reported as making such a claim.”
Political comments noted that the Queen’s alleged comments took place before the term Brexit had been coined.
Some of those campaigning to leave the EU, such as Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, had reacted excitedly to the Queen’s alleged endorsement of their cause, while others, including UK Independence party leader Nigel Farage, said it was inappropriate to involve her in the debate.
In March the Sun’s editor Tony Gallagher had suggested the tabloid could reveal more about the Queen’s views, based on comments allegedly made at a second event at Buckingham Palace. However, no further claims have been published.
Ipso was set up by some of Britain’s major newspaper organisations in the wake of the phone-hacking affair. Its ruling comes on the day that the Queen is due to make her annual speech to Parliament, opening the legislative year.
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