The verdict and sentencing of the terrorist murder of MP Jo Cox made it onto the front of every major national newspaper in Britain on Thursday morning.
Every paper that is, apart from the Daily Mail, which today faced a barrage of criticism for beginning its coverage of the death of the mother-of-two at the hands of white supremacist Thomas Mair on page 30.
Press watchdog IPSO said 30 complaints had already been received about the tabloid’s coverage at time of publication, with most under clause 1 of the Editors’ Code, Accuracy.
Among those furious at the Mail was LBC radio host James O’Brien, who told his listeners: “The Daily Mail has chosen to put the murder by a neo-Nazi of a serving British MP - and by her own husband’s account, a mother who put her children ahead of anything career-wise - on page 30.
“I don’t really understand why. Unless a murder by a neo-Nazi is less offensive to the sensibilities of the editor of this newspaper than a murder by a radical Islamist.”
O’Brien added: “Surely any fully-functioning moral compass would be equally disgusted by both.
“For people to use terror and death to pursue a political or an ideological goal in a civilised, peaceful society, it doesn’t matter what colour the killer is, does it?
“Or what religion they are? Or what ludicrous, violent ideology they are trying to pump. The point is it is violent. It’s ideological. White supremacy, radical Islam, they are both equally vile, equally repugnant.
“And yet, if this woman had been murdered by a Muslim? Page 30? You think?”
Similar sentiments were echoed across social media, with Saeed Ali remarking: “Daily Mail puts terrorist murder of MP Jo Cox on page 30, I’d wager my life had it been a Muslim it would be leading on page one.”
Gareth Berliner asked: “Jo Cox’s murder verdict buried on page 30 of Daily Mail. Why? Lee Rigby verdict wasn’t buried.”
Charles B Anthony pointed out: “No mention of Jo Cox on front page of Daily Mail. You have to go to page 30, passing ‘laughing migrants’ story on page 25 as you go.”
The tabloid also faced a storm criticism over the tone of its coverage, with many taking issue with a story that suggested Mair’s motive may have been linked to a belief the murdered MP wouldn’t help him with his council house.
Despite Mair refusing to speak to police and offering no evidence in his defence, the Mail claimed that the neo-Nazi may have murdered Cox “because he feared losing his home of 40 years to an immigrant family.”
The online headline for the same piece added: “and the MP wouldn’t help him,” an addition some on social media interpreted as “a subtle suggestion that Jo Cox was to blame.”
While acknowledging “his true motive may never be known”, the paper quotes a relative claiming Kirklees Council “were trying to get him [Mair] out for a family that had come abroad wanting a three or two bedroomed house.”
Mair had occupied the three-bedroom semi-detached council home alone since his grandmother’s death 20 years ago.
The story added: “Mair may have been mistaken that it was a foreign family who were being lined up to move into his home”, and that claims the council wanted him to move out were “backed up” by his neighbours.
Mair was given a whole life sentence for the murder on Wednesday.
The Daily Mail has been approached for comment.
IPSO Editors’ Code, Clause 1: Accuracy
i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text.
ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and — where appropriate — an apology published. In cases involving IPSO, due prominence should be as required by the regulator.
iii) A fair opportunity to reply to significant inaccuracies should be given, when reasonably called for.
iv) The Press, while free to editorialise and campaign, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.
v) A publication must report fairly and accurately the outcome of an action for defamation to which it has been a party, unless an agreed settlement states otherwise, or an agreed statement is published.