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IPSO rejects complaint over Telegraph story as Nick Cohen remains suspended by Observer

The GNM investigation into Nick Cohen is believed to be ongoing.

By Charlotte Tobitt

Press regulator IPSO has rejected a complaint over a Telegraph article about columnist Nick Cohen’s suspension from The Observer.

Press Gazette revealed in August that Cohen’s weekly Observer column had been put on pause as Guardian News and Media (GNM) launched an internal investigation into allegations made against him. He has called the claims he is facing “vile and untrue”.

It is believed that GNM’s investigation remains ongoing but the publisher has not responded to Press Gazette’s latest requests for updates.

The initial story was followed up by The Telegraph, under the print headline: “Star Observer columnist is suspended over conduct claims.” The online headline stated: “Star Observer columnist suspended after trans rights row.”

One of the women who reported allegations against Cohen to GNM complained to IPSO about the online headline and the intro’s claim that his suspension came “following allegations over his conduct in the wake of a row about trans rights”.

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The story described a row Cohen had on Twitter about trans rights with lawyer Jolyon Maugham KC, who subsequently received various allegations about the columnist and forwarded them to GNM.

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The woman who complained told IPSO it was inaccurate to report that Cohen had been suspended over a “trans rights row”.

However, the regulator responded that the article “did not report this”, saying that although the word “after” can indicate a causal link, “that was not the case in this instance”.

IPSO’s complaints committee found that the story reported Cohen’s suspension came “after a row regarding ‘trans rights’ rather than as a result of that issue”.

It said there was therefore no breach of Clause 1 (accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice. It had also cited the fact the woman described herself as being “estranged” from the GNM investigation, meaning she could not prove the exact nature of it.

The complainant told Press Gazette she found the IPSO process “really problematic”, saying her complaint had initially been erroneously rejected before being investigated and that the eventual ruling was “word for word” what she had been sent from a Telegraph lawyer during the required mediation process.

She added that she felt The Telegraph’s “clickbait headline and stand first (what almost everyone sees unless a subscriber who reads through to the end) was designed to mislead the reader”.

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
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