Newspaper did not breach rules by saying Graham Linehan is ‘known for anti-trans rhetoric’

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) has ruled that Metro did not breach media regulations when it said Graham Linehan was “known for anti-trans rhetoric”.

On 23 February, Metro published an article about the Father Ted creator’s decision to join Her, a dating app designed to “connect womxn and queer people”.

Writing on his Substack blog at the time, Graham Linehan claimed he had joined Her “to demonstrate that it’s impossible to tell the difference between men and self-identifying ‘transwomen’”.

In its article, Metro said Linehan had “set up a dating profile to mock transgender women”, adding that he “infiltrated the app and shared screenshots of trans women he deemed to be not feminine enough”.

The article went on to claim that Graham Linehan had become “known for his anti-trans rhetoric”.

Linehan subsequently complained to Metro over the article, prompting the news outlet to amend its article to make it clear that he “denied being anti-trans”. The line about Linehan’s “anti-trans rhetoric” was also changed to: “He has become known for sharing his views on trans people.”

Furthermore, Metro amended a line stating it had contacted Linehan for comment to make it clear that it had actually contacted his agent.

Metro denied it had breached press standards in an article about Graham Linehan

Graham Linehan subsequently filed a complaint with the IPSO on 26 February claiming that the publication breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 3 (Harassment) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in its reporting.

Linehan claimed that the article “misrepresented his reasons for joining the dating app” and implied he had been harassing trans women, thereby breaching the accuracy clause.

In addition, Linehan argued that the article had breached the harassment clause by describing him as anti-trans. He said the claim had led to him receiving “abuse” from members of the public.

Metro denied that it had breached the Editors’ Code, noting that its coverage had “quoted extensively” from Linehan’s own blog on the subject to back up its claims.

The publication said it never referred to Graham Linehan “harassing” trans women and actually described his actions as “mocking”. Metro argued that such a characterisation was accurate and was based on comments made by Linehan on his own blog, where he wrote: “I’m not doing this JUST for a laugh.”

Press regulator IPSO clears of inaccuracy after they described Graham Linehan as someone who has become “known for his anti-trans rhetoric.”

— Jim Waterson (@jimwaterson) July 8, 2021

That comment, Metro argued, implied that at least part of his reason for joining the dating app was to make a joke at the expense of trans women.

The news outlet also argued that it was accurate to say Linehan was “known for his anti-trans rhetoric” in its story, noting that the piece referred to past comments in which he “compare[ed] transgender activism to Nazism and accused[ed] LGBTQ+ group[s] of grooming”.

Furthermore, the publication noted that Linehan had been permanently banned from Twitter for “hateful conduct”. He later posed as a trans man on a fake Twitter account, using the platform to call Amnesty Ireland’s executive director Colm O’Gorman “a traitor to women, gay people and yourself” after he signed an open letter in support of the trans community.

In his response, Linehan said he still believed the article had misrepresented his reasons for joining the women’s dating app. He said he would consider his complaint resolved if Metro published a correction and an apology.

Press regulatory body found ‘no breach’ in Metro‘s reporting on Graham Linehan

Following an investigation, IPSO ruled that there was “no breach” in Metro‘s reporting on Graham Linehan.

The regulator found that the Metro article was “not significantly inaccurate” when it said Linehan joined Her “to mock transgender women”, noting that Linehan “arguably referenced humour as one of his reasons for creating the profile” on his own blog.

The IPSO also found that Metro was “not inaccurate” when it said Graham Linehan was “known for his anti-trans rhetoric”.

“While the committee understood that the complainant disputed the publication’s description of him in these terms, it found that the article was not inaccurate in circumstances where it had set out the basis for the description and had also made clear that he denied being transphobic and included comments made by him on the subject in 2019,” the IPSO wrote.

“His position regarding this description of him was therefore made clear in the article.”

The IPSO found that Metro had not breached the accuracy clause on this point, adding that it “welcomed the publication’s decision to amend the article upon being contacted by the complainant”.

The regulatory body also found that Metro did not breach the accuracy clause when it said it had contacted Linehan for comment. The IPSO noted that the publication contacted Linehan’s agent, meaning there was “no breach”.

Finally, the committee found that Metro did not breach the harassment clause in its reporting. The IPSO noted that Linehan “had issues with harassment from third-parties”, but said its harassment clause “relates to the conduct of journalists and not members of the public”.

PinkNews has contacted Graham Linehan for comment.