Press watchdog backs Nicola Sturgeon in memo row

Sturgeon was satisfied with the findings. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Sturgeon was satisfied with the findings. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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NICOLA Sturgeon has welcomed a ruling in her favour by the UK press watchdog over a controversial newspaper report that she wanted David Cameron to remain as Prime Minister.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) has backed a complaint by the First Minister about the article during the election campaign and her reported comments during the meeting with the French ambassador Sylvie Bermann.

It subsequently emerged that the UK Government memo, on which the story was based, had been leaked by the then Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael. He has since apologised.

The Ipso adjudication yesterday upheld a complaint on behalf of the First Minister and found that the Daily Telegraph, which published the report, had breached the editors’ code of practice.

Ms Sturgeon said: “The press have a vital job to do in scrutinising the work of government and the political process in general. That is a role which is essential for democracy, and it is scrutiny which I welcome.

“But that does not mean that the press themselves are above and beyond scrutiny and 
oversight.”

The row centred on claims that Ms Sturgeon had expressed a preference for David Cameron to be Prime Minister instead of Ed Miliband during the meeting with Ms Bermann.

Ipso’s complaints committee judged that while the newspaper was entitled to report on the memorandum, it had published its contents as facts without taking additional steps – such as contacting Ms Sturgeon for comment – to verify their accuracy.

“As a result, the article was significantly misleading,” the watchdog stated.

The newspaper accepted the ruling in a headline on its front page, with a summary of the adjudication on page two yesterday.