Katie Hopkins' Sun column claiming gunboats should shoot at immigrants making the sea crossing to Europe from North Africa has seen watchdog Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) receive a record 100 complaints.
Hopkins’ piece, ‘Rescue boats? I’d use gunships to stop migrants,’ featured comments such as “what we need are gunships sending these boats back to their own country”, “Some of our towns are festering sores, plagued by swarms of migrants and asylum seekers,” and migrants are a "plague of feral humans" who are “like cockroaches... built to survive a nuclear bomb".
The piece stirred up a hive of controversy with Ipso telling the Huffington Post: “I can’t remember another issue that has generated so many complaints so quickly,” adding that the figure was “unusually” high.
Ipso could launch an investigation into the piece over allegations it breached clause 1 and 12 of Ipso’s Editors’ Code of Practice (shown below).
Clause 1 iii) Accuracy: The Press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.
Clause 12 Discrimination i) The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual's race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.
ii) Details of an individual's race, colour, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental illness or disability must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story.
Underlining the sheer outrage at the comments, a petition launched on Change.org to force Hopkins from her position at the Sun had received 200,305 signatories at the time of this article's publication.
Regardless of the outcome of the Ipso investigation, Hopkins’ comments in the UK’s best-selling newspaper have a silver lining - the protest petition linked through to a fundraiser on JustGiving.com to support aid search, rescue and medical help for those crossing the Mediterranean.
To date Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and Migrant Offshore Aid Station’s (MOAS) scheme has raised nearly £12,700 from 639 donors.