PCC rules that Guardian’s Conal Urquhart ‘significantly misled’ readers in flotilla story


In late May we wrote a piece, titled ‘Guardian’s Conal Urquhart lies about “unarmed” Mavi Marmara terrorists‘, fisking Conal Urquhart’s story titled ‘Israel offers compensation to Mavi Marmara flotilla raid victims, Guardian, May 24.

Urquhart’s piece included the following passage:

“Turkey cooled diplomatic relations with Israel after nine of its citizens were shot dead by Israeli commandos who landed on the Mavi Marmara to prevent its passage to Gaza. Protesters on the ship repelled the first wave of lightly armed commandos, but then the Israeli soldiers used lethal force against the unarmed passengers to end their resistance.”

We noted that, per the UN Palmer Report, Urquhart’s claim that passengers were “unarmed” was blatantly untrue, per the following passages in sections 123 and 124 of the report:

“It is clear to the Panel that preparations were made by some of the passengers on the Mavi Marmara well in advance to violently resist any boarding attempt. The description given in the Israeli report is consistent with passenger testimonies to the Turkish investigation that describe cutting iron bars from the guard rails of the ship…”

“Furthermore, video footage shows passengers…carrying metal bars, slingshots, chains and staves. That information supports the accounts of violence given by IDF personnel to the Israeli investigation…”

“The Panel accepts, therefore, that soldiers landing from the first helicopter faced significant, organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers when they descended onto the Mavi MarmaraMaterial before the Panel confirms that this group was armed with iron bars, staves, chains, and slingshots, and there is some indication that they also used knives. Firearms were taken from IDF personnel and passengers disabled at least one by removing the ammunition from it. Two soldiers received gunshot wounds. There is some reason to believe that they may have been shot by passengers…” [emphasis added]

Urquhart’s “unarmed” flotilla ‘activists’ beating Israelis with large metal rods

CiF Watch later learned that a complaint to the UK Press Complaints Commission was filed, shortly after Urquhart’s piece, by a private individual, which echoed our concerns that the term “unarmed”, used to describe the passengers, was inaccurate, and in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice. 

Under the terms of Clause 1 (i) of the Code, “newspapers must take care not to publish inaccurate information, and Clause 1 (ii) provides that a significantly inaccurate or misleading statement must be corrected promptly, and with due prominence.”

The Guardian’s defense rested on the specious claim that readers would have understood that “unarmed” referred only  to an absence of firearms.

However, we’ve learned more recently that the PCC has issued a final ruling, determining that the Guardian had indeed “failed to take care not to publish misleading information, in breach of Clause 1 (i) of the Code“, stating the following:

“…the Commission considered that referring to the Mavi Marmara passengers as being “unarmed”, without mention of the weaponry which was acknowledged to have been used by the passengers, may have resulted in readers being significantly misled.”

To comply with the PCC ruling, Urquhart’s extremely misleading piece in the Guardian now has this addendum:

(The PCC concluded that the above footnoted addition by the Guardian does, in their view, represent “sufficient remedial action” and therefore “satisfies the newspaper’s obligations under the terms of the Code.”)

However, while this is a welcome revision, the Guardian still doesn’t acknowledge evidence found in the Israeli Turkel Commission inquiry that passengers on board the Mavi Marmara indeed used firearms. 

For example, the Turkel Report concluded, thus:

“…having reviewed the available evidence, the Commission finds that members of the IHH activists used firearms against Israeli forces on May 31, 2010, in their efforts to repel the boarding of the Mavi Marmara by Israeli military personnel.”

Paragraph 132 of the report stated the following:

“This violence [by flotilla passengers] included the use of physical force and attacks on the soldiers using various means, such as wooden clubs, iron rods, slingshots, knives, etc., as well as the use of firearms.” [emphasis added]

Paragraph 134, the Turkel Commission Report included this:

“Two soldiers from the takeover force in the first helicopter were wounded by live fire, which, according to their statements, was shot at them by IHH activists: soldier no. 2 (the second soldier who fast-roped from the first helicopter) was shot in his abdomen by a bullet with 9 mm circumference; soldier no. 5 was shot in his right knee.” [emphasis added]

Even the Palmer Report, while not concluding definitively on the matter, did acknowledge, in paragraph 124, the following: 

“Two [Israeli] soldiers received gunshot wounds. There is some reason to believe that they may have been shot by passengers…”. [emphasis added]

More broadly, in addition to the fact that the passengers were indeed armed (in the common understanding of the term), it’s important to note that the Palmer Report not only concluded that the Mavi Marmara passengers initiated the violence, but that Israel’s blockade of Gaza is legal, and does not represent “collective punishment”.  

The Guardian’s initial coverage of the 2010 incident was as obsessive as it was one-sided, and included 71 separate pieces published in the first four days following the incident – most of which was based on the presumption that the passengers were innocent victims of Israeli aggression.

Urquhart’s grossly misleading claim – running interference for violent IHH terrorist operatives – was thoroughly consistent with the Guardian’s ongoing ideologically motivated script regarding Israel’s immutable guilt.

75 comments on “PCC rules that Guardian’s Conal Urquhart ‘significantly misled’ readers in flotilla story

  1. so what? the lie was printed and even if there is a forced retraction, it will be repeated over and over

    just liken jenin, al durra, rachel corrie, the fake corrie pics…to name a few

    it doesnt matter

      • “the Guardian still doesn’t acknowledge evidence found in the Israeli Turkel Commission inquiry”

        Errrrr… the so-called Turkel Commission inquiry was an Israeli commission.

        If you want an impartial, credible report, you need to reed the UN one.

        • “Amnesty International called the commission a “whitewash,” saying it “reinforces the view that the Israeli authorities are unwilling or incapable of delivering accountability for abuses of international law committed by Israeli forces.

          “The Israeli human rights group Gisha said that “No commission of inquiry can authorize the collective punishment of a civilian population by restricting its movement and access, as Israel did in its closure of Gaza, of which the maritime closure was an integral part.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkel_Commission#Criticism

          • As a matter of law, a blockade does not constitute “collective punishment”. Furthermore, the blockade is clearly intended as a defensive measure not as a punishment of any sort. Nor was it “authorized” by the commission of inquiry. This just goes to show that anyone can enter any sort of drivel on Wikipedia.

          • “The blockade is clearly intended as a defensive measure not as a punishment of any sort.”

            Dear Bill, could you please explain why the Government of Israel once banned chocolate, jam, musical instruments and A4 paper from entering Gaza, and how it related to “a defensive measure not a punishment”?

        • What are you smoking, Nat?

          How can you use “impartial” and “credible” and “the UN” in the same sentence?

          Get help.

    • “metal bars, slingshots, chains and staves”

      CIF Watch forgot to mention that the Israeli commandos wore armored jackets, heavy weaponry and were escorted by war helicopters.

      • That is completely irrelevant. The Guardian claimed the passengers were unarmed. They were not. They were outgunned, but outgunned does not mean unarrmed.

        • On one side we have civilians armed with “metal bars, slingshots, chains and staves” and on the other one we have Israeli commandos wearing flak jackets, M16s and being protected by war helicopters.

          Can you seriously compare metal bars to M16s and war helicopters?

          • Did the helicopter shot the passangers?
            It’s like you will say if someone were to come to you with a knife do you defend yourself only with a knife? If you were to shoot him would you be blame for murdering him?

          • I understand you Nat. The IDF should have beaten them to death with iron bars and chains and then everything would be fair.
            BTW what kind of stuff are you smoking? Seems to me it is very bad for your mental health…

        • “Outgunned” hardly applies to people who were carrying metal bars and were facing professional soldiers armed with assault rifles and escorted by war helicopters.

          • Nat – what is your point exactly?

            This article demonstrates that the Guardian (again) chose to misinform its readers by omitting an uncomfortable fact about its annointed “victims” – i.e. that they were armed.

            Nobody denies that the soldiers who intercepted the flotilla were armed. Frankly, it is a bizarre suggestion that soldiers of any nationality, carrying out a military operation against opponents known to be hostile and with unknown weaponry, should do so WITHOUT body armour and the backup of “war helicopters”.

            So I ask again – what is your point?

            • “against opponents known to be hostile and with unknown weaponry”

              The flotilla’s passengers were bringing humanitarian aid, such as wheelchairs and medicine, into Gaza.

              Labenal, would you describe people who bring wheelchairs to disabled people, including children, “opponents of Israel”?

              • The flotilla’s passengers were bringing humanitarian aid, such as wheelchairs and medicine, into Gaza.

                You somehow forgot the keyword: out of date medicines.

                Labenal, would you describe people who bring wheelchairs to disabled people, including children, “opponents of Israel”?

                Just pretending or you are really stupid beyond any imagination?

            • Labenal, the Government of Turkey, Israel’s ally, inspected the flotilla and officially declared that there were no weapons on board.

              As a matter of fact, no weapons were ever found by Israelis aboard this flotilla.

  2. I’d Like to think that Al-Guardian will start to learn its lesson here and find out the facts from fantasy before printing articles but given the previous Al-Guardian form on this sort of thing it will be the usual Al-Guardian fact free dhimmitude as usual

    • Joginder-Kahane, I doubt the Guardian’s professional journalists will contact someone who posts comments on CIF Watch for advice.

      • That lets you off, then.

        Pity. The Groan would sink without trace quicker than a wink if you were one of its consultants, Nat.

  3. This is good news, but since most Groan readers live in a parallel universe this will change little. But it sent a message to the Ottoman’s that no more armada’s of fools will be tolerated by Israel.

    Speaking of Turkey’s engagement in humanism, how are the Kurd’s doing these days? I read that the bodies are piling up in the morgue’s on a near daily basis?

    Any Scandinavian caravan’s heading towards Kurdistan? Any Irish activists booking flights?

    • Yes. A very appropriate observation.

      The rank hypocrisy of the ‘humanitarian crowd’ is exposed to full view.

    • And in certain respects (NATO and EU status), Turkey is arguably even more closely allied to the West than Israel.

      So where’s the outrage?

      • well there has been outrage and EU politicians flying into Turkey in past years, but the Turks usually don’t allow them to leave the Western cities. They don’t get travel permits to go East. Imagine EU MP’s and MEP’s being kept in Tel Aviv and forbidden to travel to the WB? All would go ape shit….

  4. It is vital that official retractions of lies and misleading information are secured. Even if the public are constantly being mislead the fact of the official recognition that lies and misinformation are being used as propoganda is an important factor in combatting Anti Semitic/Anti Israel bias in many other arenas that have influence. The truth must be told and told again and again. There are those who will never listen but there are others who will listen and they must not be simply left in ignorance.

  5. The UN report on the Mavi Marmara http://www.un.org/News/dh/infocus/middle_east/Gaza_Flotilla_Panel_Report.pdf – “Furkan Doğan received five gunshot wounds in the back of his head, nose, left leg, left ankle
    and in the back, all from close range. A citizen of the United States, Mr. Doğan was a 19-
    year-old high school student with ambitions of becoming a medical doctor. Mr. Doğan’s
    motionless, wounded body was kicked and shot upon, execution-style by two Israeli soldiers.”

    • Sam thanks for the link.
      I note that you provide a link to the full report but seem to have forgotten to include an important sentence prior to the piece you have quoted above, and it was this;
      “The Turkish Commission describes those killed as follows:”

      No doubt you did not intend to suggest that the piece you copied and pasted from the report was from anything other than the completely unbiased ‘Turkish Commission’

      • Fritz, the flotilla was sailing in international waters when it came under assault from Israeli war helicopters and Israeli commandos.

        Then better put an end to the illegal land blockade of Gaza which has been imposed by Israel on 1,7 million people, half of them children, and has been unanimously condemned by all human rights groups and humanitarian NGOs in the world.

        You didn’t get the message?

        • Then better stop daily assaulting 1 million Israeli citizens, a large proportion of them children, with rockets, missiles and mortars, kidnapping and murdering soldiers and concentrate on building a peaceful society, thereby removing the need for any “blockade”/border restrictions.

          You didn’t get the message?

          • Israel’s 2009 military operation cast lead caused the death of 1,400 Palestinians, half of the civilians (including 300 children) and of 13 Israelis (three of them civilians).

            Don’t worry, everyone in Europe and northern America got the message.

            • …half of the civilians…

              Math is not exactly your forte Nat.

              <iDon’t worry, everyone in Europe and northern America got the message.

              I hope so. Seems to me Hamas understood the rule too: You mess with us at your own responsibility.

            • Nat,
              they were lucky. The US would have sent in the Marines, they don’t play nice. Please give credit where credit is due. It is only fair.

            • 700 of them hamas militant as was admitted by Hamas himself. Maybe it is time the Paleistnian will stop shooting at Israel which they are doing every week now. Maybe it is time for them to stop shooting from between thier own civilian. It is actually up to them. They stop shooting or trying to terrorize us and we stop retaliating. So sorry our civilains are more important to us then gazan are to Hamas.

            • Remind us, Nat, why Cast Lead was thought to be necessary. Can you name for the nice ladies and gentlemen any other state on earth who would be content to endure identical warlike behaviour as did Israel from the thugs in Gaza?

              How many kassams and other rockets were launched at Israel in the run up to Cast Lead?

              How many official letters to the UN security council were sent by Israel before Cast Lead, asking the council to reign in Hamas? What difference did they make?

              You see, you are such a semi-formed, one-eyed twerp that you belt out your cockeyed information without realising that most of us here have the context too.

        • The blockade is legal as even the UN had to confirm. Supporting crimes against humanity, terrorism and violations of international law like you do here will be punished. Already boarding, creep?

        • and has been unanimously condemned by all human rights groups and humanitarian NGOs in the world.

          Really? It has been condemned by the UNHRC too? Did Syria, Saudi-Arabia, Iran, Zimbabwe and North-Korea voted for or against the condemnation?

          You can’t even imagine the size of the huge flying f…elafel given to these NGOs and human rights organisations by the Israeli people who has the most fundamental human right to protect themselves against unprovoked rocket attacks.

  6. Dear Sam
    The Turkish report says:
    “Mr. Doğan’s
    motionless, wounded body was kicked and shot upon, execution-style by two Israeli soldiers.”

    But executions are usually more clinical and less emotional, which suggests that the Turkish report is biased from the start. I also don’t believe that in the general melee, the IDF would have wasted their time kicking and shooting a motionless body, when they and their comrades were being attacked.

    • “The loss of life and injuries resulting from the use of force by Israeli forces during the take-over of the Mavi Marmara was unacceptable. Nine passengers were killed and many others seriously wounded by Israeli forces.

      “No satisfactory explanation has been provided to the Panel by Israel for any 5 of the nine deaths.

      “Forensic evidence showing that most of the deceased were shot multiple times, including in the back, or at close range has not been adequately accounted for in the material presented by Israel.”

      http://www.un.org/News/dh/infocus/middle_east/Gaza_Flotilla_Panel_Report.pdf

  7. If Urquhart were to see a gang of men loitering outside his home carrying iron bars, would he call the police for help – but add “it’s OK, they’re unarmed”?

  8. At least be accurate. you mean the jews capacity for racial denial don”t you? Because God Chosen peopel is about jews not about zionist.

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