PCC rejects MEP's Obama 'rant' complaint

The Press Complaints Commission has rejected a complaint from Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan that the Daily Mirror dragged him into a US anti-Obama race row with a ‘gross distortion’of his views.

The Daily Mirror article, published on 18 September and headed “Tory accused of ‘excusing racism’ after Barack rant”, claimed Hannan had been ‘dragged into the US race row’after saying he ‘understood the anti-Barack Obama feelings”.

The article referred to a blog post Hannan wrote for the website of the Daily Telegraph in which he had said: “Barack Obama has an exotic background and it would be odd if some people weren’t unsettled by it”.

Hannan complained the Mirror misrepresented his views, saying that his blog suggested that some of the ‘discreditable’attacks on President Obama were based on racism but it had not sought to justify those attacks.

In addition, Hannan said the article ‘misleadingly implied’that he supported Enoch Powell’s views on immigration.

That he named Powell as a political hero but did not share his stance on that subject had been made clear to the newspaper before publication, he said.

Publishing its adjudication today, the PCC reported the newspaper’s claim that, regardless of Hannan’s intention, some people had taken offence and had interpreted parts of it as empathising with those who were uneasy with President Obama’s background.

Rejecting the complaint the PCC said editors were entitled to be partisan and present material accordingly.

It said: ‘Given the delicate subject matter, and the fact that the remarks were open to some interpretation, the commission was satisfied that the newspaper’s reporting in this instance was well within the range of political partisanship permitted by the code of practice.”

The reference to the Hannan’s admiration of Enoch Powell was ‘arguably slightly misleading’the PCC added, but the offer by the Mirror to publish a letter from Hannan – which he rejected – was a suitable response to this part of the complaint.

The PCC said: ‘It would have allowed him to clarify both the nature of his comments about Enoch Powell and his views on those who criticise President Obama.”

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