What is the story with Greg Sheridan’s persistent assertions that asylum seekers are illegal immigrants (most recently on 8 June)?
These assertions are inaccurate, as it is not illegal to seek asylum in Australia, and are derogatory, inflammatory and unfair.
They also violate press standards. The APC has made several adjudications to that effect (for example, No. 1525), and the relevant Standard of Practice states that ‘[d]epending on the specific context … terms such as “illegal immigrants” or “illegals” may constitute a breach’. An example of such context is “if the terms can reasonably be interpreted as implying criminality or other serious misbehaviour on the part of all or many people who arrive in this manner”. This closely matches the context in Sheridan’s recent column and others he has written on the subject.
The assertions also infringe corresponding internal News Ltd policy instituted in February 2012 in response to complaints to the APC, raising the related question of why Sheridan has been permitted to persist.