Holding THE TIMES & IPSO (and others) to account

Miqdaad Versi in the Guardian, ‘In August, the Times’s front-page story was “Christian girl forced into Muslim foster care”. It was followed by a series of high-profile stories, with the paper proudly vindicating itself by declaring: “Judge rules child must leave Muslim foster parents.” The headlines created an almighty media stink.

Yet we now know from the court that far from being a child wrongly placed with unfit parents, as was reported, the five-year-old girl actually had a “warm relationship” with her Muslim carers and misses them. In its attempt to create a storm, the Times not only attacked thousands of foster parents whose sacrifices are essential yet rarely acknowledged, it did so in a way that was framed as a clash of religions: one that appeared to give supremacy to a white Christian girl over a backward Muslim family, and one that seems to have forgotten that more than 1,500 young Muslim children have spent time in care at non-Muslim homes . . . So how did the Times get it so wrong, now that more of the facts of the case have been laid bare for the world to see? After all, the man responsible for these stories was none other than Andrew Norfolk, the award-winning journalist who rightly and fearlessly exposed the Rotherham grooming scandal. Yet if Norfolk was trying to replicate his northern success in east London, he was wide of the mark . . . Trevor Phillips, the former head of the Commission for Racial Equality, contributed to the circus by making a number of misleading claims on the pages of the Sun. Phillips labelled the local council at the heart of this case as “pro-Muslim”, likening their actions to “child abuse”, while attacking the real experts voicing concern at the coverage as “hypocrites”.

And the cherry on the proverbial cake was the press regulator [Independent Press Standards Organisation] IPSO’s refusal to take any action . . .’ click here.