Racial slur ‘amazongate’ disinformer Richard North loses two UK Press Complaints Commission cases

You may recall Amazongate, the phony scandal spun up by anti-science blogger Richard North (see “Sunday Times retracts and apologizes for shameful and bogus Amazon story smearing IPCC”). That wasn’t even the only instance where a newspaper apologized for an erroneous story by North (see “UK Telegraph retracts and apologies for bogus Tata story”).North continues to try to defend his misreporting, but the UK’s Press Complaints Commission slapped him back twice on Friday. Joss Garman has the story in this Left Foot Forward re-post.Richard North, the influential right wing blogger who was exposed by Left Foot Forward last week for making racist comments on his blog, has lost two cases he brought before the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) about the reporting of climate change in The Sunday Times and The Guardian. North was at the forefront of briefing, and even writing in, mainstream media during the controversy earlier this year about climate science.

In particular, the blog Climate Safety has detailed how North was central to pushing the ‘Amazongate’ fake scandal which centred on claims made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) about potential climate change impacts in the Amazon.

The Sunday Times was forced to retract its ‘Amazongate’ story — entitled “UN climate panel shamed by bogus rainforest claim” — following a successful 31-page PCC complaint from Dr Simon Lewis, a scientific expert on the subject.

The Sunday Times admitted their ‘Amazongate’ story had been “flawed” and published a correction. North, however, complained to the PCC about The Sunday Times’ published correction. On Friday the PCC ruled North was wrong.


In their ruling, the PCC says:

“The complainant (Richard North) said that he was the originator of the claim that the IPCC Amazon allegation was unsubstantiated, having made it on his blog before the publication of the article. The 31st January article had attributed a research credit to him.

“He said that the original assertion was correct, and the retraction of the article, and admission of error, had reflected on him personally.”

You might think posting racist comments might reflect on him personally too?

Anyway, the PCC continues:

“The overriding issue for the complainant was whether the claim had been ‘substantiated’, or ‘supported’.”

In the PCC’s adjudication on the matter, they conclude:

“The Commission noted that the newspaper was able to demonstrate that peer-reviewed studies existed which, arguably, could be said to ‘support’ the thrust of the IPCC’s statement in a more general sense.”

North made a second complaint to the PCC about George Monbiot’s column in response to the Sunday Times correction. The PCC summarise this objection as follows:

“The complainant said that the following statement in the (George Monbiot blog) post was inaccurate and misleading: ‘Now that the IPCC has been vindicated, its accusers, North first amongst them, are exposed for peddling inaccuracy, misrepresentation and falsehood’.”

In their adjudication, the PCC ruled:

“The reference to ‘inaccuracy, misrepresentation and falsehood’ was clearly linked to the fact that the Sunday Times had published a correction regarding an article to which the complainant had made some contribution.

“This was the basis for Mr Monbiot’s claim, and readers would be well aware of this.”

Now will North stop wasting people’s time? And will the mainstream media stop taking this man seriously?

– Joss Garman is a climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace and the co-founder of Plane Stupid.

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