A Scottish daily newspaper has apologised to the parents of a murdered schoolgirl who they claim was inaccurately portrayed in the press as a bully.
Diane Watson, 16, was stabbed to death by fellow pupil Barbara Glover during the morning break at Whitehill Secondary School in Glasgow in April 1991.
Glasgow daily The Herald published a piece shortly afterwards by columnist Jack McLean which her parents claim misreported details of her murder.
Giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry on press standards yesterday, Margaret and James Watson claimed the negative reporting had later contributed to the suicide of their 15-year-old son Alan in 1992.
Alan was found holding copies of articles about his sister from The Herald newspaper and Marie Claire magazine, the inquiry heard.
Criticising Mr McLean’s coverage of the story, the Watsons called for a change in libel laws so newspapers could be sued for defaming the dead.
Said Mrs Watson: “He picked an individual case he knew nothing about to spearhead this campaign, which he’s absolutely no right to do.
“If journalists want to do campaigns for anyone about anything, they must ensure they have all the facts before them before they start delving into people’s private lives and causing other tragedies to take place.”
“Just because a person has died, their reputation shouldn’t die with them. They shouldn’t be besmirched at the will of a sick journalist,” she added.
The Scottish Government has launched a consultation on whether it should change the libel laws to protect the reputation of the dead.
The publishers of The Herald said in a statement: “Comments critical of Herald columns published after the 1991 murder of 16-year-old Glasgow schoolgirl Diane Watson were made at today’s Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practice and ethics of the press.
“The Herald and Times Group deeply regrets any action which added to the Watson family’s grief over the tragic loss of their daughter and later their son.
“The columns were published some 20 years ago when the group was under different ownership and editorial control, and the freelance columnist involved has not worked for the company for some years.
“The Herald and Times Group is committed to the highest quality of journalism and accuracy in its reporting and analysis and adheres to the Press Complaints Commission code of conduct.”