The Green Party has complained to press watchdog Ipso over newspapers’ use of photographs of child refugees.
The party’s co-chair Jonathan Bartley confirmed he would complain over images used in The Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Star and Sunday Telegraph.
Ipso told The Huffington Post UK that it had so far received 23 complaints around articles in the publications which questioned the ages of those arriving.
In a letter seen by HuffPost UK, Bartley wrote: “These newspapers appeared to imply that these refugees claimed to be under the age of 16.
“According to the code of practice, children under 16 should not be pictured unless adult consent is given.
“Please will you investigate to determine whether they had this proof of age.
“And if they did not, whether they should have treated them as children under the Code, and further, whether they have breached the code by featuring their pictures?”
“Last week parts of the media and the Conservative party shamed our country”
Bartley said of his complaint: “Last week parts of the media and the Conservative party shamed our country. By demanding dental checks of people who are coming here to escape harm they stained our record as a nation which welcomes people in need.
“The press regulator must urgently investigate whether those newspapers which published photographs of refugees broke the Editors Code of Practice. They should not have printed them without knowing first that they were certainly over 16.
“This isn’t simply a case of potential rule-breaking, it’s also about press ethics.
“By printing these photographs editors would have known that they were contributing to an atmosphere of prejudice – and I’d urge all newspapers to think twice before publishing speculative material that fosters further division in our communities.”
Last week, HuffPost UK reported fears that the exposure of child refugees’ identities was “incredibly dangerous”, could further damage their mental health, and had already “frightened” those arriving.
“I’ve spoken to people who have said children who have arrived were frightened by the media coverage,” Alex Fraser from the British Red Cross said.
“We are trying to reassure them and say it’s OK, don’t worry. I think it would be a shame if they have an impression of Britain that isn’t one of compassion.
“This is not a fair way to treat any human being and particularly after what these young people have experienced.”
Asylum Aid told HuffPost UK that in view of rising level of hate crime, the images being used now cause concerns over the refugee’s safety.
The charity’s Zoe Gardner said: “We’re being whipped up into this absolute frenzy. It’s very sad and it’s very dangerous.
“Identifying these children under these circumstances is potentially incredibly dangerous.
“At the start of the year we had a situation where refugees feared what would happen if they were identified by the colour of their front doors.
“Newspapers have not learnt their lesson around this issue.
“We’re in a climate where there’s been a rise of hate crime and these images could be very dangerous.”
HuffPost UK has pixelated all images of child refugees.
The warnings came after commentators demanded the right to view unedited photographs of refugee children “so people can make a judgement”.
LBC presenter Nick Ferrari told ITV’s This Morning: “Can I just say credit to the This Morning editorial team for displaying that picture there.
“There remains other broadcast organisations including the BBC that still will not display this picture - I think the Guardian pixelates it.”
The furore was sparked by an MP’s call for tooth dental checks to certify the age of those arriving in Britain under the EU’s Dublin convention.