The Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) has denied former prime minister Tony Blair's demands to retract an article that alleged he tried to “wriggle out” of giving evidence to MPs about his dealings with the IRA.
The January article titled ‘Blair tried to wriggle out of MPs' probe into IRA 'comfort letters' with phone call to Commons Speaker’ claimed that Blair contacted the speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow “in an apparent attempt to wriggle out of giving evidence to MPs investigating a secret deal to offer Republican terror suspects an amnesty”.
Blair’s complaint to press watchdog Ipso stated that he had already provided evidence at the Hallett Review and was trying to rearrange the date of the meeting “in light of restrictions on his diary," according to the Guardian. His statement was backed by Bercow.
The Daily Mail argued that Blair had made a “limited denial” failing to address the fact he was attempting to cancel his address to the committee on that particular day. The Mail also granted Ipso information proving his “previous, documented, reluctance to give oral evidence to the committee”.
Ipso backed the Mail, shooting down Blair’s demands for a retraction, pointing to his “previous, documented, reluctance to give oral evidence to the committee”. The watchdog said the article “made clear that [Blair] disputed the account” and “the account was appropriately presented as a claim” adding that the appropriate care had been taken to "avoid misleading readers”.
Ipso concluded: “In the full circumstances, and given the manner in which the newspaper presented these claims, this was not significantly misleading. The complaint was not upheld”.
Ipso was formed in September 2014 as a replacement to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.