Sun editor says 'QUEEN BACKS BREXIT' splash based on two sources and he had duty to publish - Press Gazette

Sun editor says 'QUEEN BACKS BREXIT' splash based on two sources and he had duty to publish

The editor of The Sun has strongly defended his paper's report that the Queen expressed Eurosceptic views.

Buckingham Palace has lodged a formal complaint with the Independent Press Standards Organisation over the story which appeared on Wednesday under the headline "Queen Backs Brexit". Royal representatives say the story breaches clause one of the Editors' Code (accuracy).

Tony Gallagher, the paper's editor, said he had no doubt the report was accurate.

"Multiple sources – two sources to be precise – came to us with information about the Queen and her views on the EU and we would have been derelict in our duty if we didn't put them in the paper. It's as simple as that," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

"You are going to have to take my word for it that we are completely confident that the Queen's views were expressed exactly as we have outlined them both in the headline and the story.

"It is also the case that we knew much more than we published and that remains the case.

"We are in no doubt that the story is accurate."

The Sun also defended its story in an editorial in today's paper, headined: "We stand by scoop".

The editorial states: "The Queen complained to the Press watchdog yesterday but The Sun immediately vowed not to budge over our explosive story."  It pointed out that "royal officials had still not issued any public denial".

The editorial also said that "the rare complaint reveals how much the Queen hates being drawn into a political row, which is deemed unconstitutional".

Information from the court circular suggests that the comments were made at a lunchtime meeting between the Queen and four politicians in April 2011.

Two of the four politicians present — the Liberal Democrats Mr Clegg and Tom McNally — have reportedly denied being The Sun’s source. The other two, pro Brexit Conservatives Michael Gove and Cheryl Gillan — are understood to have declined to comment.

The story appeared three days after Rupert Murdoch's wedding, which justice secretary Gove attended.

Executive director of campaign group Hacked Off Dr Evan Harris said: "The Palace should bear in mind that IPSO is the regulator designed by papers like the Sun to serve the interests of papers like the Sun. So if the Queen receives satisfaction as a complainant she will be one of the lucky few. If she obtains a correction of anything like the equivalent size to the story she is complaining of then it will be because of her status, as this has never been made available to any of her subjects in the history of feeble press self-regulators."

Author: Dominic Ponsford

Dominic Ponsford is the editor of Press Gazette