POLITICS

Jeremy Corbyn's Scottish Independence Referendum Comments Spark Debate Over 'Misreporting'

'It's always the journalist's fault if you realise you've said the wrong thing.'

13/03/2017 13:35 GMT
Jack Taylor via Getty Images

Jeremy Corbyn has accused journalists of “misreporting” what he said in an interview about Scottish independence, despite video proving otherwise.

On Saturday the Labour leader triggered a fresh internal-party row following an interview with a reporter from the Press Association (PA).

He said:  

“If a referendum is held then it is absolutely fine, it should be held. I don’t think it’s the job of Westminster or the Labour Party to prevent people holding referenda.”

But speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, Corbyn claimed: 

“There was a bit of mischievous misreporting there. I was asked if in Westminster we would block the holding of a referendum. I said ‘no’, if the Scottish parliament wanted to have a referendum then it would be wrong for Westminster to block it.”

Following his interview on Today, PA hit back at Corbyn for suggesting it had inaccurately reported what he said.

Peter Clifton, PA’s Editor-in-Chief, said: “The only mischievous thing about this episode is the suggestion that PA has done anything beyond what it always does – accurately report what politicians say to us in an entirely impartial way.”

It is extremely unusual for PA, an impartial news service which works for media outlets including The Huffington Post UK, to publicly disagree with a politician.

Corbyn subsequently insisted he was not referring to PA, but instead to other publications which used its reporting.

And video of the interview added weight to PA’s insistence it reported Corbyn’s words fairly and accurately. Watch the clip, below.

And journalists were quick to rubbish Corbyn’s claim, especially the assertion that PA’s report was in turn misrepresented by other outlets.

A spokesperson for Jeremy Corbyn said: “Jeremy was not referring to the Press Association, which provides a good service, in his Today interview. He was talking about other outlets, which presented what he said out of context.

“Labour and Jeremy’s position is clear; we oppose a second referendum, and will do so in the proper place, the Scottish Parliament.

“The ‘absolutely fine’ comment referred to a referendum agreed by the Scottish parliament. Jeremy and Labour do not want a second referendum but believe it would wrong for Westminster to block it.”