05 Dec News Release – The Independent’s Inaccurate Reporting On Schizophrenia Underlines Necessity For Tougher Press Regulation
Contact: Peter Reynolds
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – NO EMBARGO
The Independent’s Inaccurate Reporting On Schizophrenia Underlines Necessity For Tougher Press Regulation
In the week of the Leveson report, it is ironic that one of the supposedly ‘quality’ newspapers – The Independent – provided an example of why Britain needs far more effective press regulation.
The Independent ran a series of articles about schizophrenia as a follow up to publication of the Schizophrenia Commission’s report ‘The Abandoned Illness’.
However, it seriously distorted the evidence by vastly overstating the role of cannabis in development of the condition. Its foreign correspondent, Patrick Cockburn, believes his son’s mental illness was caused by cannabis and has been presenting his opinion as fact since he published a book on the subject in 2011. While there is evidence of correlation between cannabis use and schizophrenia, there is no proof of a causal link. In fact, there is far higher correlation between schizophrenia and tobacco use but this has not prevented Cockburn from presenting dubious and, in some instances, clearly false evidence in support of his campaign.
The Independent’s reporting clearly breached the Editors’ Code. It published “inaccurate, misleading and distorted information”. It failed entirely to “distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact”. In fact, it did exactly the opposite, deliberately confusing the three to scaremonger, sensationalise and mislead.
Peter Reynolds, the leader of CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform, has submitted yet another complaint to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC). However, it has consistently shown itself to be unable or unwilling to take an objective stance on complaints or to enforce the Editors’ Code. Instead it seems to see its role as finding excuses for breaches of the code.
The editor of the Independent, Chris Blackhurst, has been outspoken in recent days in his opposition to tougher regulation of the press. This series of alarmist and misleading articles shows why editors cannot be trusted with self-regulation.
Peter Reynolds said:
“The truth is that newspapers play fast and loose with science and medicine all the time. They twist and distort evidence to produce a more sensational story and when one of their senior journalists has an axe to grind and a book to sell then accuracy and responsibility go out of the window. Schizophrenia is a dreadful illness but there is as at least as much evidence that cannabis provides beneficial therapeutic effects than that it is a negative factor.”
A full rebuttal of The Independent’s cannabis and schizophrenia scare story is available here: http://clear-uk.org/the-truth-about-cannabis-that-the-independent-refuses-to-print/
Cannabis Law Reform (CLEAR) is a political party registered with the Electoral Commission under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA) to promote the cause of cannabis law reform, with the aim of replacing the anarchic mess of prohibition with a framework of real legal control which would allow proper control of the trade, ensure proper regulation of the product in terms of strength and purity and provide proper protection for vulnerable people such as children.
If you would like more information on this topic or an other aspect of the work of Cannabis Law Reform (CLEAR), or to arrange an interview with Peter Reynolds please contact him on 07880 872022
or contact the CLEAR Press agent Derek Williams 07941 238908
Cannabis Law Reform, PO Box 674, Salfords, Redhill, Surrey RH1 9BN United Kingdom