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Watchdog rejects BNP activist's 'ridiculous' complaint

The Press Complaints Commission has thrown out a complaint by a British National Party activist against a regional daily.

Mark Walker, of Spennymoor, County Durham, objected to coverage of BNP leader Nick Griffin’s appearance on the BBC’s Question Time by his local paper, the Northern Echo along with four national titles.

He complained that the Echo together with The Times, Daily Express, Daily Mirror, and Guardian, had reported remarks by Welsh Secretary Peter Hain in which he claimed the BNP was an “unlawful body.”

Mr Walker described this as a “blatant lie” by the Labour Cabinet minister and former anti-apartheid protester.

Writing on his blog, Echo editor Peter Barron welcomed the decision, describing the complaint as “ridiculous.”

He said: “The PCC’s code of practice states that newspapers are entitled to present individual comment, provided they distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

“The comments were clearly attributed to Mr Hain so there was no breach of the code in any of the papers.”


Pat Harrington (07/12/2009 12:36:29)
I think that the original comments from Hain were ridiculous but the newspapers did give the other side of the argument. Few would have taken him seriously anyway.

Hmm… (07/12/2009 15:56:25)
Peter Barron’s comments are slightly disingenious. For instance, if Hain had said something disparaging (or even libellous) about another organisation, would it have been published?
I’m no fan of the BNP, they are an oudious outfit full of misfits, weirdos and downright thugs, but do editors not see that by ganging up on them, they actually giving succour to those sympathetic to the BNP’s aims, and their claims that there is a ‘liberal media conspiracy’ at work in this country?