Late last month, a group of enraged Manchester United fans threw flares onto the property of club CEO Ed Woodward. On Friday, the club released a statement saying the organization believes British tabloid The Sun’s coverage violated ethical reporting standards, and has filed a complaint with the Independent Press Standards Organisation.
Manchester United says the paper knew about the attack ahead of time, failed to notify the authorities and encouraged the protesters to become violent:
The Club believes that The Sun newspaper had received advance notice of the intended attack, which included criminal damage and intent to intimidate, and that the journalist was present as it happened. The quality of the images accompanying the story indicate that a photographer was also present.
Not only did the journalist fail to discharge the basic duty of a responsible member of society to report an impending crime and avert potential danger and criminal damage, his presence both encouraged and rewarded the perpetrators.
Does this sound completely outrageous and implausible to you? Well, it’s time to learn a little bit about The Sun.
The paper’s best-known ethical violation is its reporting on the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, when 96 people were crushed to death inside standing-only pens at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield. The Sun depicted drunk Liverpool supporters as the cause of the disaster, a claim that has since since been proven false, leading Liverpool FC to ban the paper’s reporters from its facilities.
Sister publication The News of the World was shut down in 2011 after a phone hacking and bribery scandal. The Met Police’s investigation also uncovered wrongdoing by The Sun journalist Anthony France, who was convicted of aiding and abetting the misconduct of a police officer who sold him stories. France said no one at his employer advised him that he could be breaking the law.
The Sun has also recently come under fire for claiming Queen Elizabeth supported Brexit without evidence, and referring to refugees as “cockroaches.”
Basically, if you were wondering if you should dismiss this accusation or assume it to be a credible until proven otherwise, the answer is probably the latter.