Iain Dale loses appeal over ‘homophobic’ Daily Mail article

Jessica Geen November 6, 2009
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A complaint against the Daily Mail by gay political blogger Iain Dale has not been upheld by the Press Complaints Commission.

Dale objected to some passages in the Ephraim Hardcastle column on October 1st.

The day before, he had spoken to to encourage readers of any political persuasion to attend the open primary for Bracknell, where he was a candidate for the Tory representative in the area. Dale subsequently lost his bid for the position.

The Daily Mail column read: “Overtly gay Tory blogger Iain Dale has reached the final stage of parliamentary selection for Bracknell, telling PinkNews: ‘I hope any PinkNews readers who live in Bracknell will come to the open primary on October 17th to select their new candidate. You don’t even have to be a Conservative to attend.’

“Isn’t it charming how homosexuals rally like-minded chaps to their cause?”
The column is written by Daily Mail journalist Peter McKay.

Dale responded: “I am damned if I am going to stay silent when I see a national newspaper indulge in a homophobic attack on me.” He asked his readers to complain to the PCC.

The PCC ruled that it regretted the fact that Dale had been offended by the column but added that the tone of the column fit its usual style and was not an arbitrary attack on Dale.

It concluded: “Where it is debatable – as in this case – about whether remarks can be regarded solely as pejorative and gratuitous, the commission should be slow to restrict the right to express an opinion, however snippy it might be.

“While people may occasionally be insulted or upset by what is said about them in newspapers, the right to freedom of expression that journalists enjoy also includes the right – within the law – to give offence.”

Writing on his blog, Dale said: “I’m disappointed but I can’t say I am surprised. Do I regret making the complaint? Not at all. I’m not going to launch into a rant against the PCC or the Daily Mail. Frankly, what would be the point? You can form your own judgement on the rights and wrongs of the findings.

“I can but live in hope that the Daily Mail will think twice before writing such tosh in the future.”

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