20 Feb PCC Complaint. The Daily Mail, 18th February 2012

—– Original Message —–
From: Peter Reynolds
To: [email protected]
Sent: Monday, February 20, 2012 5:30 PM
Subject: Complaint against the Daily Mail, issue dated 18th February 2012

Dear Sirs,

“It’s a bit late to give up drugs now Sir Paul…”,The Daily Mail, 18-02-12

I wish to make a complaint concerning the above article which is still available online at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2102815/Its-bit-late-drugs-Sir-Paul-.html

I make the complaint on my own account but also in my capacity as the Leader of Cannabis Law Reform (CLEAR), a UK political party, of P.O.Box 674, Salfords, Redhill, RH1 9BN. For the purposes of correspondence, please use my personal address as below.

1. The article breaches clause 1.i) of the code in that it publishes inaccurate, misleading and distorted information.

2. It also breaches clause 1.iii) in that it fails to distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

3. The article is presented as a comment piece. However, even when clearly distinguished as such, the Independent Reviewer has already ruled (21-07-11 letter to Peter Reynolds) that a comment “should not be published if it is based on an inaccuracy or misleading statement”.

4. This complaint needs to be seen in the context of the Daily Mail’s systematic campaign over many years of misinformation, dishonesty, falsification and distortion of evidence concerning cannabis. To date the commission has failed to rein in these activities at all or to make any attempt to do so.

5. The author of this piece, Amanda Platell, has a long and shameful record of misinformation, lies and distortion of the truth about cannabis. Most recently she has indulged in deliberate falsification of scientific evidence which, under complaint no. 113345, the commission acknowledged but failed to deem a breach of the Editors’ Code. Ms Platell fails repeatedly to maintain the highest professional standards as required under the code. She is a disgrace to journalism and brings the entire profession and industry into disrepute. I call on the commission to censure her in the strongest possible terms and for a front page apology.

7. In paragraph nine the article states: “Why doesn’t he warn of the serious link between its use and profound mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, especially among the young? Or mention that the ‘skunk’ versions of the drug bought by teenagers today are infinitely stronger — and more dangerous — than the varieties he would have bought in the 1960s when he first started smoking it.”

This is carefully constructed to deceive and mislead while attempting to evade a charge of inaccuracy. It is true that there are links between cannabis use and mental illness but these are tenuous, there is no proven causal link and many other substances such as alcohol, tobacco, energy drinks and even coffee are linked far more strongly and in the case of alcohol, direct causation is beyond doubt. It is self-evident nonsense to say that skunk is “infinitely stronger” and there is no evidence at all to suggest that the term “dangerous” can be properly applied to cannabis.

8. This article amounts to disinformation – a deliberate and calculated attempt to mislead and to cause fear and consternation. Ms Platell is not a fit and proper person to be given a platform in the national press to pursue her mendacious campaign against cannabis which amounts to a hate crime against cannabis users.

I would be grateful if you would deal with this complaint at your earliest convenience. I shall be happy to provide any further information required or to give oral evidence in support.

Yours faithfully,Peter Reynolds