Mail Online: Ipso upholds complaint over town being ‘no-go area for white people’

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<span>Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian</span>
Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

Mail Online, the online edition of the Daily Mail, has been heavily censured by the press standards regulator for publishing an article referring to “British towns that are no-go areas for white people”.

The title’s defence – that no reasonable person was likely to take the claim seriously – was dismissed by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso).

“The headline claim that there were ‘British towns that are no-go areas for white people’ was not supported by the article. The article included no reference to a town or towns which were claimed to be off-limits to white people, and only one area within a city was described as a ‘no-go area’ for white people,” the organisation said.

Mail Online was ordered to publish a correction and ensure that a link to it appeared on the front page of its site.

The piece, widely ridiculed when it was published in June, reported claims made in a book by the former Islamist radical Ed Husain titled Among the Mosques: A Journey Across Muslim Britain.

The author said he had spoken to a group of white men who claimed they were scared to go to the Whalley Range area of Blackburn. Husain said they cited claims of violence at the hands of Asian teenagers, adding that the local council was racist and would threaten people with eviction for flying the cross of St George.

The Mail’s article also included an image of Didsbury beneath the headline “British towns that are no-go areas for white people: Muslim author’s study of mosques reveals children ‘attacked for being white’”.

Nevertheless, Ipso found that the title had only suggested Didsbury was home to a mosque hosting a sharia court, not that it had become a “no-go area for white people”. Sharia councils are often accused of operating a “parallel legal system” in the UK but their rulings have no legal standing in British law and they have no enforcement powers.

According to Ipso, Mail Online claimed it “considered it to be ‘extremely unlikely that reasonable readers would have taken the impression from the headline that entire towns in Britain are […] entirely inaccessible to white people’”.

The committee made no ruling in respect of a second complaint that the article breached clause 12 of its code, which calls on titles to “avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s race, colour, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability”. It said it was unable to consider the issue because the complainant was not personally affected.

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