My complaint to IPSO about a story in the Telegraph about the Lib Dems

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine asked me about an article in the Telegraph by Iain Dale entitled “Trans activism is eroding tolerance in politics” which included this passage:

Last weekend, in a little noted decision, the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference passed a motion which urged anyone in the party who didn’t subscribe to full self ID and the wider trans agenda to leave the party. How very “liberal” of them.

The original article is behind a paywall but an amended version can be found on Dale’s website.

My friend asked me why the Lib Dems would pass such a motion. I was able to tell her that, as a member of the Federal Conference Committee, I knew what motions we had on the Conference agenda and that this definitely had not been debated, let alone passed.

I emailed the Telegraph and Mr Dale, pointing out that there had been no such motion – but did not get a reply (though on his website Mr Dale did make a correction).

This seemed a very clear-cut breach of the Independent Press Standards Organisation’s Editors’ Code, Clause 1 of which is concerned with accuracy, and includes this:

i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text.

I made a complaint and after a couple of emails with IPSO checking on how I knew there had been no debate they said they would refer it to the Telegraph. I was pleased and surprised to receive an email from them the next day which said:

We accept that the article carried an inaccuracy and therefore have amended the online version, which carries the following footnote:
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference passed a motion urging anyone in the party who didn’t subscribe to full self ID and the wider trans agenda to leave the party. We have been asked to make clear that there was no motion. We are happy to correct the record.
A correction will also run in print, under our Corrections and Clarifications column, in a forthcoming edition of The Daily Telegraph.
Thank you for taking the time and trouble to highlight the comment piece.

Given how strong feelings are around trans issues, this seems to me an area where the press have a particular responsibility to be accurate – it would have been very easy for the Telegraph to check this story. While it is good to have a correction, the reality is that many more people will have seen the damaging original story than the correction.

However, in this case the IPSO process worked well and quickly – so I would urge anyone who sees an inaccurate piece about the Lib Dems in a publication covered by IPSO to consider a complaint.

* Simon McGrath is a councillor in Wimbledon and a member of the board of Liberal Reform.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 11th Apr '23 - 11:54am

    To be fair to Iain, I emailed him pretty much the second I saw the Telegraph post which was pretty much as soon as it came out to point out the error. He responded very quickly and made sure that the version on his website was correct, if no less critical of us. So I wouldn’t be critical of how he has responded.

  • Thank you for taking this action. Your call for members to consider taking similar action in future cases should be taken aboard by all members.

  • Thank you for making this complaint Simon. Members should definitely follow your advice.

  • Matt (Bristol) 11th Apr '23 - 3:00pm

    Glad they corrected the record. However, in the light of the debate that WAS had at conference about not debating a motion calling for change in the party’s diversity rules, individual members ARE calling on people who do not support self-ID to leave the party, including on this site.

  • Daniel Howitt 11th Apr '23 - 4:12pm

    It maybe a reference that a young lib Dems activist made in twitter where he stated:

    Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, formerly Lib Dem transphobes
    When challenged on this he stated
    You missed that overwhelming vote against transphobia at conference then?

    So I assume the Daily Telegraph has seen similar stated sentences and out two and two together and made 5.

  • Denis Mollison 11th Apr '23 - 4:27pm

    Presumably the error arose from confusing an article on LDV ( with a conference policy motion.

    I wonder whether Iain Dale was genuinely confused or deliberately trying to stir up trouble.

  • Deliberately stirring up trouble.

    Iain understands perfectly well the difference between a conference motion and an op piece.

  • Rif Winfield 12th Apr '23 - 7:56am

    Well done, Simon!
    Again, to be fair to Ian Dale, he has always been reasonable when I’ve spoken with him in the past.


  • Tristan Ward 13th Apr '23 - 2:54pm

    I would be interested to hear Ian Dale’s response to this story, and whether the Tory Councillor should be elected from the Tory party should it prove that the Councillor did say the things he is alleged to have said.

    Logically he should argue that Councillor remains in the Conservative party if it is unacceptable to eject someone because of their opinions.

  • Peter Hirst 17th Apr '23 - 4:27pm

    I’d prefer the correction if the word such was included i.e. there was no such motion. there was no motion is unclear.

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