Leveson Inquiry accepts our open letter on media defamation of disabled people into record of Official Written Evidence ~ Social Welfare Union

Steve Preece, Social Welfare Union, June 15, 2012
 
I have today received some wonderful news from our partners, the Black Triangle Campaign.
 
Last month, a thousand people signed an open letter written by the Social Welfare Union and our Union partners which was distributed to dozens of newspapers, and even more individuals.
 
This letter was also submitted as evidence to the Leveson Inquiry by the Black Triangle campaign on behalf of the SWU and all those who added their signature.

Today I have received news that this letter has been accepted by the Inquiry and has been added to their collection of evidence.

This should send out a strong message to the media that the way they are portraying benefit claimants and disabled people is totally unacceptable and that they must move to change the way they report stories related to benefits and disability.

The irresponsible use of defamatory language and inaccurate figures – we believe – is at least partly responsible for fueling the ever-increasing hatred shown toward benefit claimants and disabled people. Add this to the devastating impact welfare reform is having on some of the most vulnerable people in society and you have recipe for disaster.

We are already seeing stories of those who have been abused or assaulted by cruel individuals who think that disabled people and benefit claimants are ‘fair game’. Irresponsible reporting by newspapers and the wider media has the very real probability of increasing the frequency and number of these unacceptable attacks even further.

This is why the acceptance of our Open Letter as evidence by the Leveson Inquiry is so significant and why we urge the inquiry to recognize its importance in tackling this growing problem of the negative media portrayal of disabled people and benefit claimants.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who signed and supported the Open Letter as well as sending out a special thank you to our union partners for making this possible.

What we have all achieved is truly remarkable!

The Fight Continues…..

Social Welfare Union

 
 
Comments
  • DAVID A SHAW June 16, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    Proof of the ignorance and stupidity of those who really thought and still think that they can get away with portraying vulnerable people in this manner. This i hope is the start of making those who lie and deceive accountable for their every word, and there are many of those in print indeed.

  • Andy Mayer June 16, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    so so pleased that they are now going to held accountable for all the lie’s they’ve written.

  • rogr June 16, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    Fantastic news, perhaps the papers will now get the message but more to the point I hope that the same will hold true for Smith, Grayling and the DWP and halt their poisonous lies for good.

  • jeffery davies June 16, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    yes but whot good is it going to do they not going to change anything just a inquiry and nothing else same old same old shit will still happen jeff3

  • Mike Caics June 17, 2012 at 3:42 am

    It also shows how Politicians use the Press as their disseminator of hateful and disgraceful rhetoric – and how the Press all too eagerly take up that rhetoric and turn it into filthy and dehumanizing propaganda. The link between Parliament and the Press has seldom been stronger than in the hands of this Coalition – and the link between propaganda and social unrest, attacks upon disabled individuals and the general view of contempt and anger held by the Public of those in receipt of any Benefits – has never been clearer. Given that the only rhetoric repeatedly printed has been about ” Disabled Fakers” and “Benefit Cheats” the Press has merely sought to ratify Government claims, provoke further Public outrage and demonize further those individuals and/or groups identified. In this day and age ‘Perception is everything’ – and if the Public are given a view, especially if that view is skewed, biased or simply wrong in every outrageous sense – then the Public tend to immediately believe what they read in headlines and ignore or doubt what lies within.
    Borne out of the ancient condescension “No smoke without fire,” the Public are generally not able (and even more often they are not willing) to accept that Innocent People are sometimes ‘made’ to look guilty. Innumerable wrongly convicted people and their harrowing imprisonment stand testimony to that TRUTH.

    It is, I believe, a ‘hidden truth’ – that the Public ‘prefer’ to find people guilty of some crime: that there is a judgmental and prescriptive attitude towards social groups and individuals. Through the actions of the Press and Media: with twenty-four hour News Bulletins, additional News Updates and all manner of speculations and expert-opinions: the Public can be forgiven for being themselves, ‘victim’ to incorrect, misleading or just hurriedly mis-reported ‘headlines.’ Yet those who fall foul of disgraceful, vilifying or persecutory Press and Media Reporting practices, are not always able or permitted to “put their side of the story.” The Press and Media become Judge and Jury: handing down their sentances in an ‘advisory’ way – giving the impression that the public should ‘do’ something.

    Recently: some of them have. They have been attacking Disabled and Sick people in the mindset that, because the Press and Media have given them thorough and undeniable ‘facts’ – they have been given (although unspoken) permission and even ‘sanction’ to act in the way they think best suits the situation: though, always denying responsibility for any violent or criminal act that might be carried out under th aegis of their ‘reports.’ How strange that, if an Individual shouts “fire!” in a crowded cinema auditorium, that individual can be prosecuted and jailed for causing panic. Yet, if a newspaper prints allegations that it has every “reasonable suspicion” of being wrong or merely inflammatory – then, unless one is very, very, very rich: there is NO remedy. The Newspaper can wrongly inform one-hundred-thousand people a certain individual IS “a paedophile” – immediately causing that individual to become a ‘target’ – yet ALL the Newspaper has to do is to print a retraction and apologize, and that is legally enough?

    The problem is, of course, the man who has been wrongly identified is still going to be believed by some that He IS a paedophile. “No smoke without fire..”

    Hopefully Levenson will begin to form some rules and codiciles to prevent the same kinds of inflammatory and demonizing editorials we have witnessed printed regularly in the Telegraph, Mail and Express. Failing to do so would be playing back into the hands of sloppy and lazy Journalists!

  • Findlow June 17, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    Great news – many thanks to SWU and Black Triangle for your unceasing efforts.

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