British newspaper The Observer apologises to Survival over ‘hoax’ story

September 1, 2008

The Observer’s article about this photo led to claims it was a hoax, © G. Miranda/FUNAI/Survival, 2008

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The British newspaper The Observer, whose misleading article about Survival’s release of photos of uncontacted Indians led to false reports that they were a hoax, has now admitted that its story was ‘'inaccurate, misleading [and] distorted.’

The author of the article, Observer World Affairs Editor Peter Beaumont, had initially threatened to sue Survival for libel for suggesting that his article had been misleading and responsible for the ‘hoax’ stories.

After the paper refused to publish a retraction, Survival made a formal complaint to the UK’s Press Complaints Commission. The Commission’s investigation has now prompted the Observer to issue its climbdown.

In its apology the paper also admits that the photos and Survival’s accompanying press release were ‘perfectly valid.’

Survival International Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘The Observer’s original article was doubly damaging: firstly, because it suggested that we had misled people, and secondly because it was used by those opposed to tribal peoples’ rights to suggest that the photos of uncontacted Amazon Indians were faked.

‘On top of all that, the paper then not only initially refused to apologise for its misleading and inaccurate article, but the journalist who wrote the story actually threatened to sue Survival!

‘Much of Survival’s strength lies in our reputation for rigorous and accurate reporting of tribal peoples’ issues. We will defend that reputation to the hilt, and we’re pleased that the Observer has finally admitted that it was wrong.’

Read the Observer's June 22 article

Read the Observer's August 31 apology

For more information please contact Miriam Ross at Survival International (44) (0)20 7687 8734 or (44) (0)7504 543 367 or email [email protected]

Uncontacted Tribes of Peru