PCC backs Julie Burchill

February 18, 2010

The newspaper industry watchdog has rejected a complaint against the JC about a comment by columnist Julie Burchill.

Reader Jess Wood complained that the comment that Christians were persecuted "all across the Muslim world" was inaccurate and misleading.

But the Press Complaints Commission ruled that care had been taken to ensure such "robust opinions" had sufficient basis in fact.

The article ran on December 11, headed "My quest for the one true faith".

In its ruling this week the PCC said: "The commission emphasised that the Code permits newspapers to present subjective independent comment, provided any opinion is clearly distinguished from fact…

"On this occasion, the article was written in the first person and was clearly identifiable as the columnist's personal experience of religion. Readers generally would not have been misled into believing there were no alternative views to the one presented by the author.

"The article contained the columnist's reaction to a claim that Christianity steps on the toes of other religions. She stated: 'All across the Muslim world, Christians are tortured, raped and murdered for their faith'.

"The newspaper accepted that this was a generalisation but had substantiated the statement by providing examples of areas (such as Sudan, Indonesia, Iraq and northern Nigeria) where the dominant religion is Islam and Christian groups had suffered persecution. It had also supplied various news articles that reported incidents of Muslim violence against Christians.

"No breach of clause 1 (Accuracy) had been established by the complainant."

Last updated: 4:49pm, February 18 2010