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15.03.2016

Queen complains over press report she ’wants UK to leave EU’

by Jane Whyatt

Her Majesty the Queen has made a formal complaint to Britain’s press regulator IPSO about a story in the Sun newspaper that claims she is anti-EU and appears under the headline ’QUEEN BACKS BREXIT’.

Here is the article in question:

Queen and The Sun and Brexit screenshot Screenshot from article that ran in The Sun, British publication, 8 March, 2016. (Photo: http://www.thesun.co.uk)

In it, reporter Tom Newton Dunn refers to remarks said to have been made in 2011 at Windsor Castle to the then leader of the Liberal Democrat party Nick Clegg and to an unnamed parliamentary source.

Brexit is a term composed out of the words “Britain” and “exit” and refers to the plans of some British politicians to leave the European Union. A referendum will be held on 23 June 2016.

Mr Clegg, a supporter of Britain’s EU membership and European integration, has since appeared on UK radio and TV to say he does not remember the conversation and describes the story as ’nonsense and untrue’.

A spokeswoman at Buckingham Palace has told ECPMF that the Queen has written to the chairman of IPSO Sir Alan Moses to complain that the front-page article breaches Clause 1 of the Editors Code.

This clause deals with the need for accuracy and the importance of avoiding misleading headlines. The Code includes a public interest clause that exempts publication of accurate stories that expose wrongdoing. But the public interest defence does not apply to Clause 1.

Not the first royal complaint to IPSO

The last time a complaint was issued was in 2015, when The Queen’s second son His Royal Highness The Duke of York, Prince Andrew, made a complaint to the regulator after the Daily Mail hired a helicopter to fly over the grounds of the Royal Lodge in Windsor Park. There, his daughter Princess Eugenie was holding her 25th birthday party dressed as Snow White with seven dwarves and a Disney theme.

In its ruling, IPSO said: ’The newspaper denied that either the use of the helicopter or the information published in the article breached Clause 3. It said the complainant’s daughter was eighth in line to the throne and a senior member of the Royal Family. The public had an interest in being informed about a lavish party for her birthday, which she had attended dressed as Snow White accompanied by seven dwarves, and which was always likely to attract attention.’ However, this royal complaint was upheld.

It is not the first time that the Sun has been the subject of a complaint to IPSO. Since the new regulator started work in 2014, eleven complaints against the newspaper have been made but not upheld, and only two have been upheld.

The newspaper is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Group and its editor Tony Gallagher is standing by the story of the Queen’s views on Europe, which he says comes from ’two impeccably placed sources.’ He deplored attempts by other newspapers and the BBC to persuade him to reveal those sources.



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