Magda and the Ombudsman: Case closed?

As has been reported at length elsewhere, an interview with a Polish woman identified as ‘Magda’, which was reported in Wednesday’s Irish Independent, was “badly mistranslated“.

‘Magda’ – now known to be Gaia Kowalik – first went public on the John Murray show, 24 hours after he first raised questions about the article, and went on record under her real name in the Irish Times on Saturday.

Donal O’Keeffe decided to lodge a complaint with the Press Ombudsman’s office about the original article (no longer available online, but archived here) under believing it breached four of the ten articles in their code of practice. Correspondence reproduced below with Donal’s permission.


“Having read a translation of the original article (,76842,11028074,Polak_w_Irlandii__Kocham_cie__bezrobocie.html) I feel that the Irish Independent piece breaches Principle 1.2 in that it distorts the original meaning of what the subject “Magda” said.

I believe that the article is in breach of Principle 3.1 in that by skewing the intention of the original piece it is neither fair nor honest.

I feel the article constitutes a malicious misrepresentation of the subject’s original intention and as such breaches her right to her good name as envisaged under Principle 4.

Finally I would suggest that the Irish Independent, by presenting a gross distortion of the original article and doing so in the context of “welfare tourism”, breaches Principle 8 in that it is likely to stir up hatred against immigrants living in Ireland.”

Best regards,



Dear Mr O’Keeffe,

Thank you for your complaint about the article published on page five of the Irish Independent yesterday, 1 February. I have noted your comments about the article.

You may be aware that this morning’s Irish Independent acknowledges that some parts of the original interview on which yesterday’s article was based were inaccurately translated, and the full version of the original interview written by Katarzyna Brejwo was published this morning on pages 20 and 21. In addition, an article written by the Polish Ambassador to Ireland, Mr Marcin Nawrot, was also published this morning beside the original interview.

I am attaching an information booklet that explains how the Office of the Press Ombudsman deals with complaints should you wish, notwithstanding the action taken by the newspaper in the matter this morning, to make a formal complaint about the article. Our complaints procedures are outlined on pages three to five of this booklet.

I should bring your attention to the fact that all information in relation to a formal complaint must reach this Office within three months of the date of publication of an article.

Please do not hesitate to contact me on my direct telephone line at 01-xxxxxxx if I can be of any further assistance to you in this matter.

Yours sincerely


By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.