07 Jun To The Editor Of The Independent On Sunday
As discussed, I am the leader of Cannabis Law Reform (CLEAR) which is a registered UK political party. We propose to submit Press Complaints Commission complaints in respect of the cannabis related articles by both John Rentoul and Patrick Cockburn in Sunday’s paper. Patrick Cockburn’s story has already been the subject of PCC complaints when it appeared in the Mail On Sunday and the Evening Standard.
I am away for the rest of the week so I won’t be able to provide you with a detailed outline of the complaints until next week. However, in both cases they will relate to gross inaccuracies in references to scientific research. They amount to the most serious breaches that I can imagine of the Editors’ Code requirement “not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information”. In particular, John Rentoul’s misunderstanding or misrepresentation of the science was quite astounding. You only have to look at the comments on your website both from myself and other well informed commenters and I think it is clear how very serious the inaccuracies were.
The most serious matter of all though relates to John Rentoul’s blog post which he made on Sunday evening in response to the avalanche of criticism of his original article. He finished this by saying:
“It is a bad thing that the drugs business is in the hands of criminals. My view is that it would be a worse thing if it were legalised, and regulated or administered by the government.”
This is a truly staggering and irresponsible statement, particularly as Mr Rentoul claims to be speaking on behalf of the Independent on Sunday. It is so serious that I believe it calls for an immediate retraction and apology from your editor. I wrote about it on the CLEAR website here: http://clear-uk.org/john-rentoul-prefers-the-drugs-trade-to-remain-with-organised-crime/
I shall provide you with a full outline of my complaints early next week. As discussed, I would be keen to negotiate an article or letter in reply rather than go through the full PCC process. Both these articles were so seriously misleading that it is important your readers understand the true facts sooner rather than later.