07 Apr The Sun Monkeys With The Truth

Last week I was greatly honoured to meet with Lord Hunt, the chairman of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC). He had asked me to consult with him on the creation of a new body to be responsible for the regulation of the press.

Our discussion was wide ranging but at its core was clause one of the Editors’ Code:

“The press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures”

This headline in the Sun is a perfect example of how scurrilous journalism distorts the truth solely for the purpose of sensationalising a story in a grubby attempt to sell more newspapers. It may be accurate but it is deliberately misleading. The story is also on the Sun’s website.

In only the second sentence of the article it is made clear that “the drug was not a factor” but by then the damage is done, the association is created and once again cannabis is falsely demonised.

I do not hold out much hope for the success of this complaint as the PCC has a policy of not deeming a breach of the code on a headline alone. This, of course, is grossly hypocritical as that is the very reason that so much time is spent on crafting headlines. Every editor knows that it is the headline that delivers the message and many readers will read no further.

The good news is that Lord Hunt is a evidently a man of great integrity and understanding. He surprised me with his knowledge of the science and medicine of cannabis . I am confident that the new press regulation body will be a huge improvement on the PCC. When it starts, I intend to submit repeat complaints to it about the more heinous examples of anti-cannabis propaganda which the PCC has failed to censure.—– Original Message —–
From: Peter Reynolds
To: [email protected]
Sent: Saturday, April 07, 2012 11:10 AM
Subject: Complaint against The Sun, issue dated 7th April 2012

Dear Sirs,

“Monkees star Davy Jones on cannabis when he died”, The Sun, 07-04-12

I wish to make a complaint concerning the above article. It is still available online at: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/4243264/Monkees-star-Davy-Jones-on-cannabis-when-he-died-at-66.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 misleading and distorted information.

2. The headline states: “Monkees star Davy Jones on cannabis when he died.” but in the second sentence of the article it says “the drug was not a factor”. Therefore, the headline, while strictly accurate, is clearly deliberately misleading. It distorts the truth for the purpose of sensationalising the story. The journalist and editor concerned know full well and indeed rely on the fact that many readers will take the message from the misleading headline without reading any further.

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