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Thursday, 23 November 2017

The Daily Mail

The Daily Mail, for those of you outside the UK, is a terrible newspaper - reactionary, divisive, negative, horrible, and it will basically say anything about anyone to get a sale.  The level of journalism is dreadful and, whatever the aspirations of its journalists on entering their profession, they have kissed any vision of informing the public "goodbye".  There is currently a campaign to persuade major companies to stop advertising in The Daily Mail (and similar rags) called #StopFundingHate.

This week The Daily Fail's hatred involved a midwife, Sheena Byrom OBE, a well-known British midwife who is a campaigner for women-centred services and continuity of care.  The level of vindictive crap in this article, which is no more than a long string of inaccuracies and misrepresentations, has outraged us all. 

Many birth activists, midwives and birth workers have complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation and the Daily Mail have removed the scores of condemnatory comments that were left on the Mail Online website but not, so far, its scurrilous article.

Midwives and allies are coming together to end the bullying and harassment of those who speak up for woman-centred care and the importance of normal birth for the health and well-being of women and babies.  The on-line stalking of Sheena Byrom is disturbing, malevolent, and perpetrated only by those who think they know everything but understand nothing.  SAY NO TO BULLYING IN MIDWIFERY.  SAY NO TO THE BULLYING OF WOMEN WHO CHOOSE TO BIRTH UNDER THEIR OWN STEAM.

Well eventually UM got a reply from IPSO but no action.  Indeed IPSO's response reinforces the dial-a-quote-without-bothering-to-understand-the-issues school of journalism.  It's one quote from Kirkup that seems to trump all the other issues that led to the deaths there, and John Buckingham has himself latched on to it:

"I write further to our earlier email regarding your complaint about an article headlined “NHS still forces mums into natural birth even when C-section is best”, published by the Daily Mail on 20 November 2017.

On receipt of a complaint, IPSO’s Executive staff reviews it to ensure that the issues raised fall within our remit, and represent a possible breach of the Editors’ Code of Practice. The Executive has now completed an assessment of your complaint.

You said that the article was inaccurate in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) because it misrepresented the issues involved in the Morecambe Bay scandal, suggesting that it was a result of pursuing natural births ‘at any cost’.

We note that the report of the Kirkup Inquiry is at the following link:

We note that paragraph 4 of the Executive summary states that:
4. The origin of the problems we describe lay in the seriously dysfunctional nature of the maternity service at Furness General Hospital (FGH). Clinical competence was substandard, with deficient skills and knowledge; working relationships were extremely poor, particularly between different staff groups, such as obstetricians, paediatricians and midwives; there was a growing move amongst midwives to pursue normal childbirth ‘at any cost’; there were failures of risk assessment and care planning that resulted in inappropriate and unsafe care; and the response to adverse incidents was grossly deficient, with repeated failure to investigate properly and learn lessons.

5. Together, these factors comprised a lethal mix that, we have no doubt, led to the unnecessary deaths of mothers and babies….

Where these were the findings of the inquiry, we did not consider it was misleading for the article under complaint to note that the pursuit of natural birth “at any cost”, formed part of the circumstances in which there were 11 avoidable deaths at Morecambe Bay. This aspect of your complaint did not raise a breach of Clause 1.

We should explain that IPSO is able to consider complaints from an individual who has been personally and directly involved in the coverage, or journalistic activity, which gives rise to the alleged breach of the Editors’ Code of Practice; complaints from a representative group affected by an alleged breach where there is a substantial public interest; and complaints from third parties about accuracy. In the case of third party complaints, we will need to consider the position of the party most closely involved.

You also said that the article was inaccurate in the way in which it characterised the Royal College of Midwives’ decision to drop its Normal Birth Campaign. We noted that Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the college was reported to have said that the campaign had “created the wrong idea”. In any event, we decided that the alleged breach related most closely to the Royal College of Midwives. Having taken into account its position, we considered it would not be appropriate to investigate your complaint without its input and consent. Because of this, we were not be able to consider this aspect of your complaint further.

You also said that the article breached Clause 3 (Harassment) because it harassed Sheena Byrom, and Clause 2 (Privacy) because it disclosed her payment without disclosing what this was made for.
In these cases, the alleged breaches of the Code related directly to Sheena Byrom, and as you are not acting on her behalf with her consent and knowledge, we were not able to consider these aspects of your complaint further.

For more information about third party complaints, and why it can be difficult for us to take them forwards, this blog may be of interest.

You are entitled to request that the Executive’s decision not to take forward your complaint be reviewed by IPSO’s Complaints Committee. To do so you will need to write to us in the next 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 seven days after the date of this email.

We would like to thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider the points you have raised.

Best wishes,

John Buckingham"

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