Press Release by Campaign Iran
A complaint was lodged
with the Press Complaints Commission today against the Daily Telegraph following
a headline article claiming that Iran was grooming bin Laden’s successor. The
complaint, lodged by Campaign Iran,
will be investigated by the PCC to see whether it breaches Clause 1 of their
Code of Practice prohibiting inaccuracy.
The story appeared in
the Daily Telegraph on Wednesday, the day that most broadsheets led with Tony
Blair’s suggestion that Iran can be a “partner for peace”.
The Telegraph’s headline, “Iran plots to groom bin Laden’s
successor”, and article was supposedly based on information from unnamed
“Western intelligence officials”. The timing of the article raised questions as
to whether it was calculated to counter any possibility of dialogue with
experts immediately and unanimously dismissed the story as highly unlikely.
Jeremy Bowen, the BBC’s Middle East correspondent, pointed out that the idea
that the Shia administration in Iran bolstering Sunni extremism in
the region was nonsensical.
Professor Abbas Edalat
of CASMII said today:
“The quoting of unnamed
sources has always been an essential aspect of news reporting yet it is becoming
increasingly discredited as journalists and editors abuse the practice in order
to give substance otherwise implausible political stories. And yet stories like
this, designed to fix a link between Iran and al-Qa’eda in the public
mind, get written and are repeated as fact on news outlets and websites across
the world. They cannot be challenged because the unnamed source can never be
revealed. During the build-up to the invasion of Iraq
there was disquiet among the intelligence community about the way in which their
intelligence was being ‘spun’. We must be vigilant against similar tactics being
used to prepare the path for intervention against Iran,
and we call on the PCC to safeguard the integrity and accuracy of our
The complaint to the
PCC has been made against editor of the Daily Telegraph as well as its two
political editors, Con Coughlin and George Jones.
Iran was formed last month
with the merger of three UK-based, single issue campaign groups against war and
sanctions on Iran (CASMII -
Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran, Action Iran, CASMII UK and