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Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel

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That headline is a quote from Mark Twain and like most of his words they are wise.

A good example here is a complaint upheld by the press watchdog Ipso about an article by Lynn Barber that breached the Editor’s Code on privacy.

The Sunday Times published the ruling at length. It also did an editorial headlined “Press watchdog gets it wrong“.

The subject of the article, Mohammed Ahmed, must surely wish he had not gone to the regulator.

The ruling gave the paper the chance to repeat the allegations about his private life, his health, his alleged drug use, his asylum application and much else.

If Mr Ahmed “won” in any way, it is hard to see how.

I’ve never lost an Ipso complaint, but I have had to agree to the odd correction. In almost all cases, to a reasonable, disinterested reader, the correction simply repeated the point I had originally been trying to make.

This is not to say that flaks shouldn’t complain about errors, they should. Making it a regulatory matter is a big risk though.

We have long memories. And we buy ink by the barrel.

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