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DAILY STAR Report “Trolls: Internet trolls are backing a court libel case against the McCanns”. - DECISION BY IPSO

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DAILY STAR Report “Trolls: Internet trolls are backing a court libel case against the McCanns”. - DECISION BY IPSO

Post by Tony Bennett on 11.11.15 19:56

Earlier this week, I received clearance from IPSO, the body that now monitors the press, to make public their decision on the Daily Star's article of 5 October headed: “Trolls: Internet trolls are backing a court libel case against the McCanns”.

They have decided not to investigate - decision below.

I can ask for a 'Review' of their decision, but have decided not to. 

Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. I have done what I can.

My separate complaint about an earlier Daily Express article about the McCann v Amaral libel trial is still under active consideration by IPSO and I am not allowed to say any more about it until they make their final decision.   

--------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Mr Bennett

I write further to our earlier email regarding your complaint about an article headlined “Trolls: internet trolls are backing a court libel case against the McCanns”, published by the Daily Star on 5 October 2015.

On receipt of a complaint, IPSO’s Executive reviews it to ensure that it falls within our remit, and discloses a possible breach of the Editors’ Code of Practice. The Executive has now completed an assessment of your complaint under the terms of the Code. Having considered the points you have raised in full, we have concluded that your complaint does not raise a possible breach of the Code.

You said that it was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) for the article to describe those contributing to Goncalo Amaral’s legal fund on GoFundMe as “trolls” who have “abused the McCanns online”, and to include the comments of a friend of the McCanns who said that some of the donors “have said the most appalling things on the internet”. These descriptions of were however clearly distinguishable as the newspaper’s and the McCann’s friend’s characterisations of these donors. These characterisations would not have significantly misled readers given that you accept that abusive comments have indeed been left on the GoFundMe page by some users. This aspect of your complaint did not therefore raise a possible breach of Clause 1.
Further, we noted that the article stated that the donors “include” trolls, and that only “some” of the donors have left abusive messages.  

You also said that it was misleading for the article to state that the donations to Mr Amaral’s GoFundMe page could “help strip the couple of £357,000”. It was not however misleading for the article to suggest this, given that the McCanns would lose this money if Mr Amaral’s appeal is successful. This aspect of your complaint did not therefore raise a possible breach of Clause 1.

You are entitled to request that the Executive’s decision to reject your complaint be reviewed by IPSO’s Complaints Committee.
To do so you will need to write to us within seven days, setting out the reasons why you believe the decision should be reviewed.
Please note that we are unable to accept requests for review made more than seven days following the date of this email. 

We would like to thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider the points you have raised, and have shared this correspondence with the newspaper to make it aware of your concerns.

Best wishes,

Xavier Bastin

for IPSO

++++++++++++++++++++

My original letter:
[Address withheld on police advice]
Thursday 7 October 2015

Editor
The Star
The Northern & Shell Building
Number 10 Lower Thames Street
London
EC3R 6EN

geoff.marsh@dailystar.co.uk

Mr Simon Yip, for Director
IPSO - Independent Press Standards Organisation              
Gate House                                                           
1 Farringdon Street                                                 
London EC4M 7LG

inquiries@ipso.co.uk
 

Dear Mr Marsh and Mr Yip

Complaint – Alleged Breach of Editors’ Code of Practice – Daily Star article by Jerry Lawton, published 5 October 2015: ‘McCann fury as libel cop case begins’

I write to bring to the attention of IPSO my complaint that the above article breaches Clause 1 - ‘Accuracy’ – of the Editors’ Code of Conduct, as set out below.

Clause 1 Accuracy
i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.

ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and - where appropriate - an apology published. In cases involving the Regulator, prominence should be agreed with the Regulator in advance.

iii) The Press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

My complaint is that this article was inaccurate, misleading and distorted, in respect of the parts bolded below. I reproduce the internet article below (with a copy from the Star website) and I have reason to believe that this article was also published in the newspaper’s paper edition. I give specific details and reasons for my complaint below.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

by Jerry Lawton / Published 5th October 2015

TROLLS: Internet trolls are backing a court libel case against the McCanns

They could help to strip the couple of £357,000 they hope to use to find her.

Ex-police chief Goncalo Amaral, 56, has been flooded with nearly £50,000 in public donations since he lost a libel hearing against Kate and Gerry McCann six months ago.

The GoFundMe webpage donors include trolls who have abused the McCanns online.

Three appeal court judges are expected to begin re-assessing the evidence on Wednesday.

If they find in Mr Amaral’s favour the damages award will be quashed.

A friend of the couple admitted they were “exasperated” by the appeal and the source of its funding.

The pal said: “Some of the people who have donated money to this have said the most appalling things on the internet even though they know nothing about the case and have no direct involvement in it.

“It seems strange indeed these people may be indirectly able to influence civil court proceedings. Kate and Gerry are exasperated.”

Read more http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/468332/McCann-fury-new-libel-cop-case-Madeleine-internet-trolls 

McCann fury as new libel cop case begins

INTERNET trolls are backing a court challenge to Madeleine McCann’s parents.
By Jerry Lawton / Published 5th October 2015 

TROLLS: Internet trolls are backing a court libel case against the McCanns
They could help to strip the couple of £357,000 they hope to use to find her.

Ex-police chief Goncalo Amaral, 56, has been flooded with nearly £50,000 in public donations since he lost a libel hearing against Kate and Gerry McCann six months ago.

The GoFundMe webpage donors include trolls who have abused the McCanns online.

GETTY Pic: “Kate and Gerry are exasperated” - A friend of Kate and Gerry McCann

Three appeal court judges are expected to begin re-assessing the evidence on Wednesday.

If they find in Mr Amaral’s favour the damages award will be quashed.

A friend of the couple admitted they were “exasperated” by the appeal and the source of its funding.

The pal said: “Some of the people who have donated money to this have said the most appalling things on the internet even though they know nothing about the case and have no direct involvement in it.

“It seems strange indeed these people may be indirectly able to influence civil court proceedings. Kate and Gerry are exasperated.”

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Facts

The McCanns’ libel action against Dr Goncalo Amaral began in June 2009. It was caused by the publication of his book, ‘The Truth About A Lie’ in July 2008. 

In September 2009 parts of his assets and income were sequestered by a court. His book was also banned from sale, all copies impounded and handed to the McCanns’ Portuguese lawyer. This court decision received huge coverage in the UK media.

In October 2010 the Portuguese Court of Appeal reversed the banning of his book, and ordered the book to go back on sale. In doing so, they applied Article 10 – Freedom of Speech – deciding that the balance of the argument strongly favoured publication. The McCanns appealed to the Portuguese Supreme Court. In March 2011, the Supreme Court upheld the Appeal Court’s ruling. The McCanns were ordered to pay the costs of both appeals and hearings. 

Earlier this year, a judge in the lowest civil court in Lisbon decided that Dr Amaral had won on 5 points of his case, and the McCanns had won on 2 points. The Court awarded the majority of costs against the McCanns. However, the British press, including the Daily Star, relied on a press release from the state-controlled Lusa news agency which portrayed the result as a complete victory for the McCanns.

Dr Amaral then appealed against the decision.

Shortly afterwards, a Ms Leanne Baulch launched a ‘crowd-funding’ appeal to help with Dr Amaral’s legal costs on the GoFundMe site. She and her supporters recognised that there was a gross inequality of arms in the case. The McCanns were able to call on seemingly unlimited funds to employ the services of the best lawyers in the U.K. and in Portugal, a significant part of that money coming form the British public who willingly donated to ‘help find Madeleine’. By contrast, Dr Amaral had been stripped of many of his assets and a third of his income and could not afford to pay lawyers at commercial rates. Those behind the GoFundMe appeal wanted to give Dr Amaral the chance to secure good legal representation in the appeal to the Portuguese Appeal Court.

Up to today, the GoFundMe appeal had raised £50,475 with 2,704 separate donations. 

One feature of the GoFundMe website is that people can identify themselves if they wish, and can also add comments explaining why they have donated.

It would be plain to anyone reading the comments that the overwhelming majority of those donating are ordinary, decent British citizens, many of them professionals or retired professionals, including a considerable number of police officers and some journalists who stated their opposition to the generally one-sided coverage of the case in the British press.

I have added by way of a specimen sample a good proportion of the donations and comments made on the website on 5 October (the day of the article) in an Appendix to this letter.

The definition of an internet troll

The term ‘internet troll’ is a recent one. Nevertheless, many online dictionaries have attempted a definition and I set out six of them below:
http://www.internetslang.com/TROLL-meaning-definition.asp 

The Meaning of TROLL:

TROLL means "A deliberately provocative message board user"
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Internet+Troll 

A person whose sole purpose in life is to seek out people to argue with on the internet over extremely trivial issues. Such arguments can happen on blogs, Facebook, Myspace and a host of others. The best thing you can do to fight an internet troll is to not answer...or report them.

http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/troll  

(computing, slang) a person who submits deliberately inflammatory articles to an internet discussion

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_troll 

In Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory,[1] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[2] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion,[3] often for their own amusement.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/troll 

verb (used with object): Digital Technology, Informal:

to post inflammatory or inappropriate messages or comments on (the Internet, especially a message board) for the purpose of upsetting other users and provoking a response. 

to upset or provoke (other users) by posting such messages or comments.

http://www.netlingo.com/word/troll.php

troll a.k.a. trolls, trolling, don't feed the trolls, the dark tetrad

Online it originally meant the act of posting a message in a newsgroup (and later on a blog) that is obviously exaggerating something on a particular topic, hoping to trick a newbie into posting a follow-up article that points out the mistake. In general, to "troll" means to allure, to fish, to entice, or to bait. Internet trolls are people who fish for other people's confidence and, once found, exploit it.

You have probably heard various opinions about how to deal with people who write insulting or provocative remarks on various Internet forums. The most common is "Don't Feed the Trolls", which says that all the people in the forum should avoid responding to the troll. Historical perspective: The people who post nasty comments online are likely to have pathological personalities, said a 2014 study from the University of Manitoba. Known as “Internet trolls,” Web users who like to post inflammatory comments, incite arguments, and send insulting tweets are more likely to exhibit Machiavellianism, narcissism, psychopathy, and sadism.

++++

From this list, it is clear that the main criterion for an internet troll is that they deliberately cause havoc on the internet. The first two definitions are representative: "A deliberately provocative message board user"
“A person whose sole purpose in life is to seek out people to argue with on the internet over extremely trivial issues”.

++++

The term does not apply to those who are simply critical on the internet, though I agree it has been applied to those who are particularly nasty in what they say about others.

The McCanns are not above criticism. On their own admission, they left three children under four alone, more than a minute’s walk away, for substantial periods, five nights in a row. Even many of those who think Dr Amaral’s conclusions were wrong do not see the wisdom of continuing a long drawn-out libel action which has near-ruined their opponent.

The complaint

These are the four sentences in the article which I suggest breach the Editor’s Code:
(1)  INTERNET trolls are backing a court challenge to Madeleine McCann’s parents.
(2) They could help to strip the couple of £357,000 they hope to use to find her.
(3) The GoFundMe webpage donors include trolls who have abused the McCanns online.
(4) The pal [‘friend of the couple’] said: “Some of the people who have donated money to this have said the most appalling things on the internet even though they know nothing about the case…”

Reasons

Overall, the article conveys the clear impression that nasty ‘internet trolls’ are the main ones donating to Dr Amaral’s fund:
Inaccurate, misleading, distorted.

The term ‘troll’ or ‘internet troll’ is misleading, as very few if any of the donors are ‘deliberately provocative message board users’, as per the standard definitions offered above.

The article is misleading and distorted in not informing its readers of the overwhelmingly decent character of the donors.
The phrase: ‘They could help to strip the couple of £357,000’ is misleading and distorted in that it suggests that that is the intention of the donors, when it is clear from the GoFundMe site that the donors are simply trying to help a man shorn by the McCanns of his resources to be able to defend the libel action against him.The phrase: ‘The GoFundMe webpage donors include trolls who have abused the McCanns online’ is misleading and distorted in two respects:

There is no reference to the overwhelming majority of decent donors, giving a wholly false impression of who is actually doing the donating, and

The deliberate use by Lawton of the pejorative word ‘abusing’. A far more accurate phrase, I would suggest, would have been: ‘have criticised’ the McCanns online. There is a world of  difference.

In relation to this quote, “Some of the people who have donated money to this have said the most appalling things on the internet even though they know nothing about the case”, from a ‘friend of the couple’ or ‘pal’ - but someone far more likely to be an experienced public relations performer - this again is misleading and distorted as it suggests that the majority of donors ‘know nothing about the case’ and have said ‘appalling things’, whereas my observations are that such people constitute a handful at most of the 2,704 donations made so far. The Star has made no effort whatsoever to represent the views of the vast majority of decent donors, many of whom have openly given their names and could very easily be contacted.

In short, the article by Lawton is inaccurate, misleading and distorted in that it focuses on a tiny minority of donors, at the expense of fairly representing the majority of ordinary, decent donors who have willingly dipped into their own pockets out of the deep British sense of ‘fair play’ to give Dr Amaral a sporting chance of defending himself in a clear ‘freedom of speech’ case.

In conclusion, I do condemn unreservedly any donor to GoFundMe who has genuinely made nasty, ‘abusive’ comments about the McCanns, but I suggest that among all the donors, the Star will find very few examples of such people.

Yours sincerely

Anthony Bennett


APPENDIX –

Sample of donations made to Dr Amaral’s GoFundMe appeal,

5 October 2015

£10
Gill Kelly This one's for Jerry Lawton for printing such rubbish. So the McCanns are exasperated that we are influencing a court process by helping to fund an appeal by a man who has had his own assets frozen by...oh, wait a minute, the McCanns!! Hope this is the beginning of a flood of fresh donations today.
£10
I believe The dogs
It's a travesty that in order to fight for justice money is needed.I wonder when the mccanns look back, do they think their money has been well spent on suing so many people.What has it achieved? I often think of all the charities that could have benefited from their litigation costs.Banned books always become the book everyone wants to read.Underdogs have a place in people's hearts and the drums for justice are beating loudly.Good luck snr Amaral.
£10 Andy Hopkins
FAO the McCann's and their anonymous friend who felt the need to comment in the Daily Star. How can you claim to be exasperated - You started this claim, you tried to settle and failed, you lost all appeals until this latest minor court judgement and now you expect people to be sorry in case truth and justice has it's day at long last! Where were your sympathies for Goncalo after you had everything stripped from him? For the record we who donate here are neither trolls because we can see through your pack of lies and have no influence whatsoever on the case or evidence hearings unlike Team McCann who have had government assistance from day 1, spreading lies, covering up of a multitude of things, helping you conceal the truth of where the evidence and facts clearly leads - which is that you are more than involved in your daughters disappearance and subsequent disposal of her body - Shame on you!!
£20
Mr Whicher
So according to Jerry Lawton, the McCanns are "furious" (aren't they always?) that Goncalo Amaral is exercising his legal and democratic right to appeal the ludicrously high damages that were awarded against him for publishing a book on the disappearance of their daughter. The McCanns started this litigation and they are going to have to live with the consequences of their taking action against Sr. Amaral and the other defendants. If they are so unhappy and really “exasperated” that he is following due process (as he is perfectly entitled to do) then they have a simple solution - pay all the considerable costs that have so far been awarded against them, apologise to Sr Amaral and his co-defendants and then withdraw from the action. Simples! In the meantime, this ex-Police officer will continue to make occasional donations, as have many of my old friends and colleagues (some retired, some still serving) since April, in an effort to provide a level playing field for a comrade in arms, so to speak. By the way, Mr Lawton, I am neither an "internet troll" (whatever type of beast that is) nor have I EVER abused the McCanns on or offline. As for the risible statement from a 'pal' of the McCanns that, "these people may be indirectly able to influence civil court proceedings", may I respectfully suggest that this 'pal' may perhaps be a total stranger to the concept of "Justice" and how it is supposed to work in a totally balanced, even-handed manner?
£10
Alison Lloyd
Hope we can get to £50K before 7th October! And that Sr Amaral can look forward to his appeal going ahead in confidence that the funds are there to support him. Forca Goncalo!
£25
Deborah Staines
£223
ea Farrell
anonymous
NUJ Member
Jerry Lawton's article today has prompted me to donate again. I am not an internet 'troll'. I am a journalist concerned about low media standards and how virtually impossible it is to get anything into print that questions, however gently, the claim that Madeleine was abducted. Good luck this week Sr Amaral - I hope the hearing is honestly reported! 
£10
I am not A Troll
A tenner for a good man with a kind soul,still working in silence for Justice for poor wee Madeleine.
£5
Anonymous
£10
Gareth Bouch
Another small donation to the just cause of a great and honourable policeman. Truth will prevail
£20
R T
One day all the world will know the truth. 
£33
Anonymous
£20

Anonymous Anonymous
Let's get the fund up to £50,000 for the legitimate defence of a police offer who was only trying to solve this case.
£50
Anonymous
£5
Steven Mclaren
Small amount towards justice.
£10
Sharon Wheatley
Try as they will to hold us down and silence us they can not..They took the links off google for this fund... they slander us trolls in the press and portray us in a bad light . whilst making the mccanns look like the victims , and even bringing Ben Needham and his heartbroken mother into this circus and portraying her in a bad light and her campaign .. the uk m.s.m never prints any truths!!!! .. as promised with each lie printed in the press about this case .. I will donate .. I will soon be skint at this rate ..pode ser servido justiça melhor sorte Amaral
£10
Órfhlaith Ní Choírbín
Good luck and God bless, Snr. Amaral. The truth always out. Prayers from Ireland  x
£20
Máirtín Mac Shíomóin
For the record I am not a troll, and I have donated here before but when I heard Google pulled the link it made me want to donate again. We haven't gone away you know!
£22
Bobbin anonymous
£22 just donated, that's £2 for everyone of the 11 letters in the word 'exasperated'. The word that interests us 'trolls' however is the word 'TRUTH'.
£10
anon anon
I read the article in today's Daily Mirror. Why is there no mention that the reason for this fund is because Mr Amaral has a right to appeal but couldn't because his funds/assets were frozen? people donated to the McCann's and they have admitted using some of this money to sue him so how can people who are donating to Mr Amaral's legal fund be classed as 'trolls' . Wouldn't that make all donators whether it be to the McCann's or Mr Amaral, 'trolls'?

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Tony Bennett
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Re: DAILY STAR Report “Trolls: Internet trolls are backing a court libel case against the McCanns”. - DECISION BY IPSO

Post by BlueBag on 11.11.15 20:01

It's The People vs The System.

Fairness vs Moneyed Unfairness.

It was ever thus.

And ever will be unless we somehow rid ourselves of sociopaths (who are good at disguising it until they get to the top).
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Re: DAILY STAR Report “Trolls: Internet trolls are backing a court libel case against the McCanns”. - DECISION BY IPSO

Post by woodpecker on 12.11.15 10:00

A really well put together complaint Tony. A great pity that it did not get accepted. Hopefully, they'll be good news from the other complaint that is pending.

Next time there is an offensive article - and there will be for sure - lots of us should complain because I think if there was a volume of complaints there'd be a better chance of success.

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Re: DAILY STAR Report “Trolls: Internet trolls are backing a court libel case against the McCanns”. - DECISION BY IPSO

Post by Garrincha on 12.11.15 20:31

To Tony Bennett – I simply want to say that I stand in awe at your dedication, erudition & commitment to speak truth to power – may you never lose heart in your endeavours, sincerely

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Re: DAILY STAR Report “Trolls: Internet trolls are backing a court libel case against the McCanns”. - DECISION BY IPSO

Post by plebgate on 12.11.15 20:41

Credit to you Tony for trying.  clapping

Not at all surprised though.   IPSO  -    who appoints them?

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Re: DAILY STAR Report “Trolls: Internet trolls are backing a court libel case against the McCanns”. - DECISION BY IPSO

Post by MRNOODLES on 16.11.15 15:15

Good effort TB. thumbsup

Have missed something along the line?

"...given that the McCanns would lose this money if Mr Amaral’s appeal is successful."


Nobody made the McCs take Dr.A to court. And it was his right to appeal. Biased (censored by myself) expected the pair to just turn up at the courts and get the wheelbarrow filled with 'Boulton & Watts'.
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Re: DAILY STAR Report “Trolls: Internet trolls are backing a court libel case against the McCanns”. - DECISION BY IPSO

Post by hentie on 16.11.15 15:40

A
@Garrincha wrote:To Tony Bennett – I simply want to say that I stand in awe at your dedication, erudition & commitment to speak truth to power – may you never lose heart in your endeavours, sincerely
Very well said!

Seconded!
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