Mix of free-swinging comment and Ipso regulation is not so clever, Trevor

Peter Preston
Sun columnist and former political editor Trevor Kavanagh. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Trevor Kavanagh, Sun political editor-turned-columnist, is the only regular writing journalist on the board of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso). It’s a queasy slot when Kavanagh writes about immigration, Channel 4 presenters wearing a hijab or, last week, “the Muslim problem”, a piece that sent more than 100 MPs into orbit.

In one earlier Kavanagh imbroglio, the Ipso board issued a statement. “Ipso is committed to ensuring that individuals who believe that they have been wronged by the press are able to seek proper redress without fear of retribution or victimisation. In this instance, public comments by an Ipso board member brought the strength of this commitment into question. This should not have happened.

“The board has received an apology from the board member and an assurance that it will not happen again.”

But how does Kavanagh keep such assurances and simultaneously say what he feels he must say, however obviously inflammatory? He defends his latest comments with scornful ferocity – “a concocted explosion of Labour and Islamic hysteria”.

That’s his right, and there is nothing in the drafting of the Ipso code that specifically pulls against it. But the combination of board member and free-swinging columnist still doesn’t work. It’s a ball and chain for both of them.

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